Sunday, June 14, 2015

mom's graduation party

A couple weeks ago my mom finished her master's degree in professional counseling. She's worked on this so hard the past few years, and we were excited to get together and celebrate her accomplishments.

It was a small party of just 60 people that started an hour after the graduation ceremony ended, so set-up was, you know, no big deal.

Especially while six months pregnant.

If you're having a large party with no time to set up, you do soup, soup, and more soup.

The open house was in Mom and Dad's back yard which is literally RIGHT behind the campus where Dad teaches and from whence Mom just graduated.

I got as much ready as I could in the morning. Then after the ceremony it was just a quick waddle over the soccer field on the hottest day yet of the year to finish up.

The Indian block print table cloth below was our color inspiration, and I made the banners in the background to match.

And as well as flying in with her husband to super surprise Mom (yay!), my sister, Rebekah, painted this for Mom's office. The verse is Jeremiah 17:7-8 which has become an important verse for Mom and the clients she works with.

I had fun with the dessert table. We had cakepops...

FOUR of Mom's luscious cheesecakes, including Caramel Brownie, Almond Joy, Hawaiian, and Peanut Butter Fudge.

There was also her amazing "First Prize" Carrot Cake.

Besides being a little too hot for this mama-to-be, the day was gorgeous, and it was so fun to hang out with friends and family all evening.

This little girl was a champ. I barely saw her all evening! She just ran around with friends and only came to get me when she needed to use the bathroom. She's officially a "big kid".

I love this photo of the two of us. Also, anyone who's pregnant needs to run to Target and buy this dress right now. It's soooo comfy, doesn't show sweat marks (yay!), and is pretty fun and trendy.

Congratulations, Mom! I wanna be just like you when I grow up.

Party Credits

Party Styling: Kara Hallead
Photography: Faith Scheuerman
Desserts: Carol Scheuerman & Kara Hallead
Linens: Vintage and international
Banner fabric: Joann Fabrics
Mini Chalkboard Signs: Hobby Lobby

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

reflections on 6 (12) years... and road trips

Zach and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We've still been married less than half the time we've "been together", though. We dated for six and a half years. Much of that was spent living far apart. I would never recommend long-distance dating, but because of it we're kind of amazing -- and super efficient -- at talking out our disagreements and assessing where our relationship is headed.

 Zach and Kara circa 2006

Once, while we were dating, we were getting ready to take a long road trip from Michigan to Pennsylvania. I said I was gonna go clean out his car before the trip. He asked if I needed any help, and I think I shrugged and said, "If you want." He raised an eyebrow, like what's that supposed to mean? I smiled, walked back, gave him a hug, looked in his eyes, and said, "I'm going out to clean the car. I'd like to do it myself, but if you could come out in 10 minutes, tell me I'm doing a good job, and thank me that would be great." His cousin's fiance who caught the whole exchange said, "Whoa, you guys are crazy good at communication."

And so we are, when we try.

 Engagement - 2008

When you live together, though, especially with a talking, talking, talking toddler, end of the evening communication is usually:

    "Wanna watch something?"


    "The $57 at Giant was for groceries, but the $24 at Target was a gift."

That's okay, though. It's a totally different stage of life. So many of our conversations in our early twenties were so intense because the stakes were so high. Is he the one I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with? Is this little flaw I've just found a deal breaker for me? or for him?

 Honeymoon cruise shenanigans - 2009

We were away as a family in North Carolina over our anniversary last week, and we got to have lots of good conversations. Plus, the trip opened up with probably one of my favorite moments of our marriage so far.

To set up the story, here's how we do car trips: Zach goes to bed pretty early the night before since he does all the driving. I stay up till 2am or later getting every little thing packed and in order.

I like to have the house looking exactly how I'd like to see it when I come home. I put all of the packed bags in a line by the door. I put all of the food we'll need for the cooler on one fridge shelf and all the food that will need to be thrown away in the morning on a different shelf. I choose what Jaina and I will wear for the whole trip. I pack two bags of toys and books for Jaina; one for the car and one for the house when we get there. I pack all of my toiletries except for my toothbrush and deodorant which sit neatly on top of my half-zipped toiletry bag.

In short, I put a lot of work into making the morning exit as smooth as possible.

 Wedding rehearsal - 2009

Zach got right up and showered in the morning, and I took my usual forever and a day to sit on the edge of the bed and try to wake up my face. As I slowly (and calmly) got ready, I could hear cabinets opening and closing downstairs and just a flurry of activity. I felt myself getting annoyed, but as I was pulling up my car trip yoga pants I had an epiphany.

This is what we do. I pre-plan, and Zach crisis-manages.

I could hear him taking out the kitchen trash (before I had a chance to make our trip lunches or to catch any other last minute trash). I told myself this is the part of the morning when he runs around making rash decisions, and I can either get all huffy about it and ruin our trip or I can calmly show him the plan I've laid out (hopefully taking away his stress) and we can proceed from there.

I came downstairs proud of all the progress I've made as a wife and determined to speak respectfully. He met me on the stairs saying,

"I threw out all the milk."

I sat down on the stairs and laughed hysterically.

It was just so "us", and I love it.

 Pregnancy announcement #1 - 2011

I love that even after 12 years of identifying with each other we still have so much to learn and so many rough edges to smooth out.

Baby #2 is due in nine weeks, and I am actually excited by the thought of going through a VBAC together. That's when Crisis-Management Zach really shines.

There's only a certain amount I can plan for when it comes to birthing. But Zach is amazing when it comes to emergencies. We're a perfect team, really. I meticulously plan for all eventual outcomes, and Zach reacts quickly and confidently... to all eventual outcomes. You want this guy on your team in a zombie apocalypse. I think Emergency Zach is the hottest Zach, actually. ; ) And I'm kind of excited to see him again.

Here's to new adventures in parenting, Honey. But here's a warning. If we're leaving on a trip with the new baby, and you throw out any breastmilk, I might kill you. I had a plan for that.
Maternity photos (before Jaina) - 2012

Saturday, April 11, 2015

upcycled toddler gym shorts

I've been going through a lot of my clothing this year, and setting things aside to get rid of. However, instead of donating them or (horror of horrors) throwing them away, I've been coming up with ways to turn them into clothing for Jaina. It's been a fun puzzle figuring out ways to use existing seams, buttons, and collars. And the best part is, it's FREE! So throw caution to the wind, and cut up your old clothes for your kid.

For this project, you'll need:
- 1 pair of adult athletic shorts
- sewing machine
- matching thread
- scissors
- loose-fitting toddler pants or shorts to use as a template
- pins

I started with this pair of size Small women's jogging shorts. These have been sitting in my drawer since college. Time to embrace reality, and realize that these will never be appropriate for public consumption again. 

First, turn the shorts inside-and lay them on a smooth, flat surface. Take the time to perfectly center the middle seams and line up the front and back band. I also smoothed out all the wrinkles to point downward. You can't get rid of the wrinkles since it's all gathered in the elastic, so just try to make sure they're all pointing in the direction that you'll be cutting.

Next, lay your template pants over the shorts, being careful to line up the center seams and band. Toddler sweat pants would be best for this. (Don't use leggings.)

Rather than use chalk or a pen to make the outline, I just pinned the layers of the shorts together. MAKE SURE you keep both layers of the elastic band on the same level when you pin them, and PIN THROUGH THE ELASTIC, so it doesn't "boing" deep into the band when you cut through it.

Cut through all layers of the shorts about 1/2in. outside the line of pins. I pulled the waistband ties out to make sure I didn't cut through them. 

Next, sew up your seams with coordinating thread.

I went back and zig-zagged over the waistband seams for added durability. 

I had a little trouble with the bottom of the shorts since women's jogging shorts are longer in the back.

But a quick hem fixed that. 

 I would recommend taking in the crotch, just to make them fit better. Especially for girl shorts. Just turn them inside out, fold them flat along the horizontal crotch seams, pin, and sew. (Technically this should be done before you hem them.)

And there you go! 

Even if you can find toddler mesh shorts in fun girl colors (Target has zero, Old Navy has one), they're gonna run upwards of $12 each. These were absolutely free, and took less than an hour to make.

She's excited to play "bassetball" at the park with Daddy once the weather really warms up. 

While I was working on the project, Jaina was playing with the side pieces of the shorts that I had cut off. She kept saying they looked like mermaids, so I  sewed them up, and made a quick and dirty mermaid tail for her stuffed animals.

Didn't quite work out, but at least now I can say I upcycled the entire pair of old shorts. Pretty sweet!

So next time you're about to take a load of clothing to donate give it a second look. Or give it to me!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

mimi's 80th birthday party

We got to celebrate my grandma, Mimi's, 80th birthday this January! Friends and family came out to celebrate her, we had lots of good food, and I discovered the joy of setting up a dessert table without having to actually make the desserts. Why have I been punishing myself this whole time?! Spending weeks cutting out circles or folding tissue paper doesn't bother me in the least, but after just an hour of baking or chocolate dipping I'm shaking my fists at the heavens.

The inspiration for the decor was this gorgeous fuschia dress that Mimi wore as a bridesmaid's dress sometime in the 50s. 

I also used a lot of vintage photos of Mimi; on the cupcakes, the embellished posters, and around the room.

 And a TON of tissue paper flowers. These are very retro to me - like prom decor from the 50s.

Did you know you could order large photo prints from Staples for only $4.99? You have to choose "engineering prints", ignore the many warnings that this is NOT a photo grade option, place your order, and pick them up in store! Files that were originally professional-grade, high-quality prints work the best.

Mom made the amazing desserts; including Almond Joy Cheesecakes and Hawaiian Pineapple cupcakes.

For the cupcake picks (originally seen on Empress Stationery), I used some of the hundreds of photos I've scanned onto our computer over the years. I cropped all of the photos to be about 2.5"x2.5", then I arranged them in rows in a Word document, and printed them on cardstock. Then I used my 2" circle punch to cut them all out, mounted them on pink circle cut-outs, attached toothpicks, and that was it. All for the cost of a pack of pink cardstock. ; )

Love that beehive!

Here's more engineering prints. After picking them up from Staples, I put them in lightweight poster frames and had some fun embellishing each with tissue paper flowers and tassels. 

Mimi and Pappap on a trip in Ocean City, NJ.

The birthday girl!

Mimi with Cheryl, the woman to whose wedding Mimi wore the fuschia dress. 
I found out at the party that it was actually a "rainbow wedding" where all the bridesmaids wore different colors. 
They said that was all the rage then. 

Happy Birthday, Mimi! So glad I could spend it with you! 

Party Credits

Party Styling: Kara Hallead
Photography: Faith Scheuerman
Desserts: Carol Scheuerman
Photo prints: Staples
Vintage Items: Charlotte Sprenkle
Cupcake Stand: Pier 1 Imports