Sunday, September 15, 2013

Confessions of a Crafty Momma: Party Planning

I'll admit it. I'm that mom who's determined to give her kid these awesomely awesome birthday parties...and the kind that involves momma crafting her tush off beforehand to make it so awesome. Did I mention I like awesome?

So with Conner's 2nd birthday rapidly approaching...and by rapidly approaching I mean two months away...I've started brainstorming ideas for the sweet baseball-themed party I want to throw him.

Naturally, I've turned to Pinterest for some inspiration and to have a place to remember good ideas. If you're interested and want to follow my birthday party board (or any of my other boards, for that matter), you can do so here :)

For me, planning a party starts early because I'm not into skimping. If I'm throwing a bash, I'm going all out...but not breaking the bank to do it! Hence why Pinterest is so great...you can find some seriously awesome ideas on the cheap! Plus, DIYing rocks my socks.

So here's what I'm planning for the dude's partay thus far...
  • a super awesome Phillies cake (that will be some variation of this  except more awesome because it'll be Phillies...and made by me!)
  • a hot dog bar with all the fixins (classic ball park food!)
  • baseball themed cookies (because I have the cookie cutters and am dying to use them)
  • wiffle ball sets and Cracker Jack favors
  • a ball for guests to autograph
  • homemade lemonade and fun cups with paper straws
  • a decorate-your-own-baseball hat station
  • a Sunday bar (who doesn't love a Sunday at the ball park?)
Not gonna lie, I'm pretty excited about everything. I can't wait to start designing his invitations (we are doing his birthday pictures today if the rain decides to be cool and peace out!) and start making decorations (think flag banners, some form of the Citizens Bank Park Liberty Bell, and old-timey baseball decor). I've already started purchasing a few things here and there because the best way to do it is to start early so you can catch sales. I've found that Zulily is a great resource for party items if you start planning early enough! I ordered paper straws through them that are super cute and a pretty decent price. The catch with Zulily is that you've got to be patient with your orders (hence why, with almost two months still until the party, I've started ordering stuff from them) as they can take a few weeks to ship and arrive. But sometimes the deals on there are just so good, it's worth the wait!

I'm also a huge fan of VistaPrint for ordering invitations, favor tags, stickers, thank you cards etc. Their prices are always very reasonable, product quality is great and their customer service is incredibly friendly. Aaaaannnd VistaPrint also does a lot of Groupons where you pay like $17 for $70 worth of product, or more recently $15 for $45. I always purchase the Groupons when they have them because I use VistaPrint so often! I've gotten "We've Moved" cards, return address labels, business cards, Christmas cards....anything printable, really, from them!

Keep hanging around for more partay goodness. I'll be sharing more updates on Conner's party as I continue to plan. I love throwing birthday bashes, especially when they're for my kid!

Much love, 
V

Product Review: One In A Mel'lion's handmade soaps

So with all of the chemically produced products out there, I'm always on the hunt for naturally made, wholesome stuff. Especially when it comes to products we use on our bodies, I'm of the mind that the more natural it is, the better for you it is. Over the past few years, so many mass-produced, chemically engineered products have been recalled and pulled from shelves, that I feel it's very important to make an effort to steer away from them when I can. So I've turned to places like Etsy and my local farmers markets to find some great, natural-based products to replace the stuff I previously used.

Perhaps one of the most basic, but my most favorite products is handmade soap. Coming in any scent you can dream up and being fresh and handmade, it an accessible, affordable product that is well worth trying if you never have! Recently, my friend Mel, who owns One In A Mel'lion, sent me a couple of her homemade soaps to try.

One word: amazeballs.

Not even amazing. Mel's soaps deserve a full on amazeballs rating. They're that yummy, skin loving and just pure luxurious.

Mel sent me her lavender lemon soap, and green tea and honey, both of which are made using natural ingredients. So much so that you can even see bits of real lavender in the pretty, purple swirled bar. I adore the scent of lavender to begin with, but I discovered this particular soap has some hidden benefits. First, it's awesome in the kitchen. Lemon has a natural way of removing odors, as does lavender, and when you're chopping onions for dinner, that scent can linger on your hands for days...but not if you wash with Mel's soap! I washed with the lavender bar after making all kinds of goodies for our housewarming party this past weekend, and you couldn't smell anything but the gentle scent of lavender and lemon on my "onion, pepper, tomato, garlic" worked hands. For which I was grateful because I hate the stench of onion on my hands! Second, lavender is a natural bug repellant! It didn't click with me right away, but prior to the party I had showered with the lavender lemon soap. As a person who normally needs to use a coating of bug spray to not look like a bug-bitten, polka dotted lady, it came to my surprise that I only needed a touch of spray on my ankles at the very end on the evening. I wasn't getting bit! And then I realized...that gentle lavender scent that I adore so much was gently repelling the nasty biting bugs away from me. What a pleasant surprise!

The green tea and honey soap isn't necessarily scented, but the pretty cream and green swirled bar has a natural, light scent to it that is fresh and clean. The local honey in this bar, I found, was incredibly moisturizing! With both the lavender lemon and green tea and honey I found that, where most bar soaps dry my skin out, these kept moisture in. I never once had to use extra lotion after washing (especially my hands which are constantly super dry). But the green tea and honey bar, especially, I found to be very moisturizing. This particular bar I also really like for washing my face with. I have sensitive skin and this was very gentle! The real, brewed green tea added a nice, soothing element to the soap as well. I use a Clarisonic on my face and this soap got nice and foamy and made for a great wash with the Clarisonic. It's got a really great lather, which is something I like to see in a bar of soap! I also really liked the green tea and honey bar for shaving my legs. It gave me a thick enough lather and a soothing, moisturizing enough formula that it makes a great replacement for shaving cream!

Oh! And an added bonus to the green tea and honey soap? It makes a GREAT baby soap. It's not tear free, so you need to be careful around the face and eyes (I used a different, tear-free shampoo when I washed Conner's hair) but as far as baby wash goes, this is awesome. Again, nice and moisturizing and it left Conner's skin just as soft as the day he was born. Seriously!

A nice slice of Mel's soap will run less than $5, and I think they last longer than conventional bars of soap. They're made via both hot and cold processes, some even made with goats milk (which I LOVE) and she's constantly coming up with new scents! Recently Mel listed a mint soap that I'm betting is to die for, and planning to order myself. And for you seasonal pumpkin lovers, she's got something for you too! Mel's soaps are available via her Etsy shop, and to stay current on her latest soaping and sewing projects, give her page a like on Facebook!


Mel's lavender lemon soap.
You can see bits of real, fresh lavender in the bar!
Mel's green tea and honey soap, made with
real brewed tea and local honey!
Much love, 
V