A shower made for a storybook

A shower made for a storybook

Do you have a favorite children’s book?

You know… that one you can recite from memory because you’ve read it so many times?

On Saturday morning, I hopped out of bed early with storybooks on my mind. I sorted through our shelves of books, pulling out all of the ones that were classics. I had teamed up with two of my friends, Jami and Sarah, to host a baby shower for our friend, Lindsay.


We had found tons of ideas for a storybook themed shower on Pinterest. Jami had planned out all of our themed foods, like a Hungry Caterpillar fruit salad, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs meatballs and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie cookie tray.

I designed and cut out banners with characters from classic children’s stories. And Sarah planned out some cute decorating touches…


But we needed just one thing more for our decor… books!

I set up children’s books all around the living room, entry and kitchen. When my kids saw them, they immediately sat down and started reading them to each other. I was amazed at what a flood of memories washed over me just looking through those books and hearing them read the words again.

Now that they are 17, 15, 13 and 8, and can read on their own, we don’t spend much time reading books together. But the words came right back, and I could recite many of them by heart.

My favorites:

  • Dinosaur Roar
  • Are You My Mother?
  • The Bear Snored On
  • Put Me in the Zoo

Oh, how I cherish those days of little kids snuggled up in my lap reading books together!

Anyway… Here are a few other details from the shower, which was SO fun to put together. I had been working super hard the month before to get ready for Easter at our church. (When you work for a church, Easter is pretty much the biggest day of the year!)

My husband saw me cutting and pasting together the banners and other decorations, and remarked at how happy I looked. There’s nothing like doing something creative to help me relax after a long few weeks! Somewhere in my secret dreamworld life, I imagine myself spending my days as a professional birthday party planner. (Is there such a thing?!?) I wonder if I would get bored designing and cutting out decorations for parties all day long.


I was in charge of creating the invitation for the shower. After searching the Internet for ideas, I came up with this one… an invitation designed to fold out like a little book. I Photoshopped characters from classic stories to create this simple, but cute invitation.

Jami did an amazing job planning out our spread of children’s book-themed food!

I used my Silhouette to print and cut the banners and signs for the food. Since I had already found a lot of storybook characters to create the invitations, it was easy to put together the other signs. I used the “registration” feature on my Silhouette to first print the characters on shiny cardstock, then cut out the circles on my Silhouette.


Sarah created this adorable wreath, using small books and stuffed animals she found in the $1 aisle at Target.

She added lots of other tassels and finishing touches…

We simply printed out one more themed cover for these little clipboard notebooks that we gave as party favors…

And then we added more books and quotes to finish off the decorating…

For our party games, we created a sheet with lines from classic children’s books and the guests had to guess which book they were from.

And then, we played the game, “Guess what’s in the diaper?” I loaded diapers with an assortment of candy, fruit and other foods, like melted cheese, mashed up Fig Newtons and my favorite, guacamole! I think this photo says it all!

As always, planning the party was almost as much fun as the party itself. But I especially loved my little stroll down memory lane through the pages of all of those books.


So what about you? What’s your favorite children’s book?

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when family comes around

when family comes around

So often in life I feel like an oddball. I have a weird sense of humor. I feel the need to be creative all. the. time. When I hear a favorite song from my past, I like to sing out. Like at the top of my lungs.

But there’s that one group of people that gathers around a few times of year that actually gets me. I don’t have to explain my jokes. I don’t have to explain why we might want to do a craft on Thanksgiving Day. Nope. They just jump right in and turn on the 70s music and sing out.


When my kids were younger, I think they were actually a little intimidated by my side of the family. I’m the youngest of four children, which makes them the youngest of the 14 grandchildren on my side. Each of my siblings is highly creative.

My oldest sister sings and plays multiple instruments. My second sister is a professional clay artist, creating designs for a major polymer clay company. And my brother left his career in business to build motorcycles from scratch. Behind his huge motorcycle dude persona, he is a talented artist and loves painting ceramics with his two daughters. All of my nieces and nephews also are highly creative so when we get together it’s not unusual to cover the table in butcher block paper so everyone can draw, doodle or do creative lettering while we talk.

This Thanksgiving, I was relieved that when I suggested we paint rocks, I didn’t get one funny sideways glance. Nope. They were in. No complaints or objections or “let’s go watch football.”



Of course, the only problem is they are all so creative that they make me suddenly feel like I have no artistic talent whatsoever!




Here’s mine:


Now that my kids are getting older, they appreciate my crazy family. They are starting to understand our shared weird sense of humor. And the need to sing out. It’s fun to watch our kids get in the mix and practice their own creativity. Our oldest son jumped in by creating a video of our silliness.

Thankfully, we can all laugh at ourselves!


How about you? Does your family do anything unusual when you are together?




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practicing gratitude

practicing gratitude

Last Tuesday, I woke up early and jumped out of bed 45 minutes before my usual wake time. It was the day after Halloween, and we got to bed late the night before. But I was full of energy. It was the first day of November, and oddly, I had been growing more and more excited about this day

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I seemed to have fallen in love with October. We had perfect weather most of the month, and we had been intentional about enjoying this middle month of fall. It’s my tendency to dread November. I don’t like the time change that brings 4 p.m. sunsets. I don’t like the first brush with cold weather. I don’t like the barren trees and dried up prairie.

As October was winding down, I decided to start making a mental list of how I could appreciate November. I thought about our anniversary and my son’s birthday, both in November. I started planning Thanksgiving — my favorite holiday. I planned out my goals for the month. November is all about thankfulness and gratitude, so I wanted to come up with some activities and ideas that centered around that theme.

So, last Tuesday, I headed outside with extra enthusiasm before the sun came up to drag a large tree branch out of the yard and into the living room. For the past few years, I had seen ideas to make a Thankful Tree. I wanted to do it, but I couldn’t think of a way to do something that would fit in with my decor. This year, I remembered the large branch my husband had cut from our River Birch tree. It had been laying in the yard since summer.

I pulled off all of the old dry leaves and brought it inside. I had just dropped it on the living room floor, when one of my kids came down to deliver some discouraging news. I hadn’t even been awake for an hour, and this news seemed to drain me of my excitement and enthusiasm. I was feeling frustrated, defeated and angry.

How could I possibly create a Thankful Tree now? I didn’t feel the least bit thankful. I was annoyed.

Why do you even get sucked into these dumb Pinterest ideas? It’s ridiculous to drag a huge branch into the living room! What are you trying to do?

I left the branch there, and dealt with the problem of the morning. Then, it was time to walk my youngest to school. I stepped out into the beauty of that day and took deep breaths of the crisp autumn air. The sun was shining brightly, and the sky was bright blue. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect first day of November.

When I got back home, I collected myself and figured out how I could “plant” that branch in a big metal container with potting soil. I added large rocks at the top and covered those with the many colorful leaves we had found outside. I found some sparkly cardstock in fall colors and cut out leaves with my Silhouette.


I picked out one of the leaves and wrote the first thing that came to mind: “a gorgeous first day of November.”

I actually felt better after I put it on the tree.

That evening, I didn’t deliver a big speech to my family about thankfulness. We didn’t do a Bible study or read a poem. I knew that creating this monument to thankfulness was my thing. I was the one who wanted to practice gratitude this month. I couldn’t force it upon someone else. It was up to them to decide whether to play along. I simply asked everyone if they could write something they are thankful for on one of the leaves. They did it without making a peep.


“Wow!” I thought. No one complained. No one asked why. No one acted like I was crazy. They just did it.


During the past week, it’s been fun to see people interact with the tree. Some family members fill in a leaf almost every day without being asked. For others, it’s something they do when reminded at dinnertime. We all get excited to see what others wrote. I think that’s actually the best part. I love seeing the little things we all are taking the time to appreciate. Sometimes, they are serious. Sometimes, they are funny. I’ve also realized we all have very similar handwriting so it’s hard to determine who wrote what.


After seven days, I thought I might start running out of things to write on the leaves. In fact, the opposite it true. As I think of things to be thankful for, more and more things come to mind. It’s almost like a thankfulness bank has been opened in my mind.


Our Thankful Tree is getting fuller and fuller by the day. Out the window just beyond, we have been watching the leaves fall off of the big Maple in our backyard. Meanwhile, we keep adding leaves to the branch in our kitchen.


Yes, the days are getting shorter. The evenings are getting darker. And the air will soon get colder. But our Thankful Tree is getting fuller. And as it does, our kitchen is full of gratitude.

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4th of July festivities

4th of July festivities


Last night we got to host our first gathering of friends in our new house. We felt so blessed to be able to be surrounded by good friends to celebrate 4th of July together! I love to host, so it is really nice to have a bit more room to have people over!

The hubs handled the really important stuff — his amazing pulled pork. That means I got to do what I love, experimenting with pretty desserts, festive drinks and decor. I thought I would share some Pinterest-inspired recipes from our 4th of July.


It turns out this layered drink is not only a tasty refreshment, but it’s also a great topic of conversation. “Wait! How does that work?” seemed to be the resounding comment as people were checking out the drink dispenser.

To make a layered beverage like this one, you just need to pay attention to the sugar content of each liquid. I used cranberry juice at the bottom, weighing in with 30 grams of sugar. Next, add a “layer” of ice. The ice will float to the top, and then you need to carefully pour the next layer onto an ice cube (otherwise, the liquids will mix). I used blue Hawaiian Punch for my second layer, with 17 grams of sugar. (You also could use blue Gatorade.) The top layer was diet Sierra Mist.

I loved this idea, and I’m excited to try it in some other color combinations for another holiday! We were all curious about whether the layers would mix when people poured them. They did not, so you have to be first to the spout if you want the most sugar in your drink! 🙂


Clearly, I’m drawn to layered foods because I couldn’t wait to try out this dessert idea I found on Pinterest. It was super duper easy and yumm-O! Just as I was about to assemble the trifle, I realized my trifle bowl was still packed away in storage. Thankfully, my new neighbor gave me the idea to flip over the top of my cake cover and use it as a bowl!  Here’s the recipe.

Oh, and since the recipe only calls for six tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, here’s a great use for the rest of the can. Offer it to your guests to stir into their coffee in place of cream and sugar. WIN!


I attempted to make these stripey candle holders from cans, but my effort to punch holes in the cans was a big fail. They turned out to be a cute way to hold sparklers or Sharpies (for writing names on cups, of course!).


I’ve shared this recipe before, my it’s one of our absolute favs. It wouldn’t be a summer gathering without S’mores Galore. These things are usually gone in about 2.5 seconds, and they are so simple! Here’s the recipe. (It doesn’t say to use non-stick spray on the pan, but I’m going to try it next time. They were a disaster to try to serve!)


I hope your 4th of July was a blast! Do you have any favorite recipes or traditions? I would love to hear!



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