Fourth of July 2017

Happy 241st Birthday,Merica!

Hope you all had a fun (safe) Fourth of July!   Man, I can’t believe the Fourth has just passed us by!  I sound like a skipping record, I know, but…’time flies when you’re having fun’.

We threw the Fourth of July bash this year, again.  I just love the Fourth, ya know.  There is an electric vibe that I get on this holiday; something about the fireworks, all the family, the sunshine, the great food and drinks, all the colorful outfits and gear, relaxin’, the decorations…it all makes me happy.

This year my husband and I wanted to change it up a lil bit by not being slaves to the grill. Usually, we are grill side cooking (in the heat) while drinking (sweating) and talking to everyone, which we love, but last year we grilled sooooOOOooo much food that we felt like we missed out on our friends.  We decided to do a lot ourselves again this year, but cater the two main dishes from Pit Stop BBQ.  Which worked out pretty great because that helped me immensely with not being stuck cooking all day, but mamma mia!, we had so much food!  haha Not that this is a bad thing.  

Fourth of July Menu

  • Raw Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Kale Salad
  • Corn on the Cob (thanks Gabriella)
  • Carrot Salad (thanks Trina)
  • Cornbread
  • Cole Slaw
  • Mac N Cheese
  • Pulled Pork
  • Beef Brisket
  • Baked Beans
  • Hot Dogs
  • Potato Salad (thanks Mum!)
  • Eggplant Parmigiana (thanks Mum!)
  • Veggie Plate (thanks Aunt Helen)
  • Roasted Zucchini and Summer Squash
  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Roasted Onions

We did end up cooking; I made all the veggies, hot dogs, and mac n cheese in the oven in the late morning before the party.  This was a big task with the time, but so worth it.  Everything was hot on the sternos, cooked fresh, tasted great and looked delicious in their pans, and we were free to hang out!

There was a ton of drinks, like beer and wine..  oooh, I made a white sangria for the first time.  YES, first time..for me sangria is red, and red only, but I was aiming for a fruity, dryer, refreshing drink. It actually came out great!   I got drunk, I mean, it was delicious, and, I had to make two large batches of it as it disappeared fast. So I am taking that as a sign that my family and friends liked it, too.

My White Sangria Recipe (party sized)

  • 2 ripe peaches, cubed
  • a pint of raspberries
  • a pint of blueberries
  • three liters of dry white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
  • 3/4 cup triple sec
  • 32 oz peach flavored seltzer

So there you have the food and drinks portion of the party, which is uber important right?  haha

We peppered our lawn with a tent, chairs, beach blankets, bocce, some other lawn games then at the end of the yard it was anchored by an inflatable waterslide, which was a huge hit.  I have never seen the kids enjoy an inflatable we have gotten like this one before.  It was a large slide that went into a good-sized pool at the bottom, so when the big kids weren’t in it the lil ones could hang out in the pool.  I didn’t see a kid fight, cry or anything..which was grrreat!  Everyone enjoyed that.

I did manage to get the kids together to take a group picture, which I love doing..and I also got them to take a LIVE video for my sister in Italy, through Fbook.  It was super cute with them all screaming “HAPPY FOURTH!” and I know she loved it.

 

From the food to the drinks, to the kids playing so well, and the relaxing with family, it was a pretty great day.

Hope you all had a wonderful day too!  xoxox

Paris Birthday!

A Paris Birthday!!

Bonjour!

Woah! I cannot believe the girls’ birthday bash has already come and gone!  Is anyone else experiencing the quickest year of their lives, too?

2016.SLOW.DOWN!!

So, yes, the girls’ bash, lemme talk about that.  The girls this year picked the theme Paris. I always mention this on the birthday post, but they started to have a joint birthday celebration because they are twelve days apart in the month, and having one party was easier for me and for family when they were little, but now this one big party has become their tradition and they love it.  They haven’t yet stopped it and I am going to enjoy this for as long as they let me (cause I love to plan and make the magic happen for them).

So, let me start with the details and finish with the party pics…

 

The Decor

Oooh La La!

My husband and I went to Paris in 2011, and absolutely loved it.  The food.  The wine.  The views.  It was chic yet old world, urban yet country; it was an amazing place.  So, I started with an idea that instead of doing an all out girly party with eiffel towers everywhere, I’d actually invoke the feeling of Paris.  This year is the first year in all my party planning history that I used Black and White as the base colors, with a splash of baby pink.  Usually, I try to make everything shabby chic with soft greens, so this was hard on me hah.

I dressed the food and drink tables in b&w, white bases and black tops. Then I used all and any materials I had to create a Parisienne feeling. There were eiffel towers, vespas, mannequins, signs and even streamed a French Jazz station from Pandora that was perfect!

The food table:  I had created a sign that read Sister’s Cafe in French and draped some white tablecover from it above the table.  Then placed a large garden Eiffel Tower in the corner (that lived in my baby’s room) and then a mini pink vespa in the middle.  Then used that faux china that was white with silver lining rings and real silver utensils wrapped in thick white napkins tied in black satin ribbon.

The drink table: I dressed it with a drink dispenser, glasses, milk glasses adorned with black satin ribbon and polks dotted straws, three mannequins, a chalk sign and a large print photo..which is from NY, but this is the reason for all this.  1. My sister lives in Italy, and most of these items are hers from when she lived in my parents apartment.  Since she wasn’t here, I thought to pay tribute to her fav city by having her ‘here’.   2. NY and Paris are connected by the beautiful Statue of Liberty… annnd  3. The woman in the photo recently died this week and well, it all just felt right at that table!

Then at the entrance, which I didnt capture a photo for the first time in six years, I had a large Paris sign with lamp posts flanked on each side.  Then I used my bike (because it has a vintage feel) as a decoration with a basket filled with French inspired flowers, a faux bottle of wine and some potatoes.  Because everywhere in Paris is side dished with potatoes..  Viva les Frites!

 

Signs

Mais Oui!

Having access to an artist, well, you ask them to do a lot of things for you because it comes easier to them. So I had asked my husband to print out some signs but he decided to hand pain them for a more vintage feel.  The front entrance and the photo booth had the center Paris sign and the food table the cafe sign.  So super cute in person.

 

Girls Outfits

Comment La Mode!

The girls always ask to dress up for their parties, and this year was no different.  

Thinking about old world Paris fashion, all I could think about were stripes!  I got online to scour Old Navy, and found a super cute outfit that I pieced together.  It was super cheap, $15 each outfit!, and that they can use all year long as separates.  

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A black and white striped swing top and a black circle skirt from ON. Then through Ebay, I had found two colorful wool berets that matched their personalities perfectly.

 

Food

Delicieux!

The food for this party was all on my shoulders as I decided not to get this catered.We always end up with way too much food and I just wanted to do it myself. So. My husband and I stayed up late two nights in a row and nailed it. Trying to make everything from scratch as we could.

See when in Paris the big things to eat are steak and fries, everything chicken or eggs, and potatoes.. EVERYWHERE ahah.  Since we are living French this day I figured to keep it Frenchy as possible, and I came up with this:  Croissants placed in a French wine crate, a mix of Olives, a Salad, BLT baguettes, Mac n Cheese, French Fries, and Chicken Fingers (for my dairy allergy friends).  For dessert: Madeleines (a french butter cookie), elephant ears (a french cookie that I call elephant ears hah), the cake and cupcakes, my mother’s pizzelle cookies, donuts (for my allergy friends) and grapes. It was all a big hit! And leftovers were at a major minimum than usual. That’s huge!

The Cake

Tres Belle!

We also made the cake and cupcakes ourselves, too.  I think this will revert back to being bought at the bakery because it’s just a lot of work and I didn’t think it was as pretty as my mind haha.  THOUGH everyone liked it a lot. I am particular I guess.  

We made marshmallow fondant from scratch, after seeing it done on the British Baking show! It came out great.  We colored one portion pink and left the other white.  We layered the white fondant over a pink and white checkerboard cake then added heart cutouts.  We then topped it with the polka dotted cake bunting I made earlier in the week.  The pink cupcakes had an overlay of a pink heart with a cupcake Eiffel Tower pick I had made the night before. 

 

Madeleine Rose

Une Rose!

For the Madeleine cookies, I decided to make a rose shape out of them. I went to my local WalMart to grab a ten inch foam ball and a plastic bowl.  I glued the two together and then covered the foam in press n seal wrap.  The cookies were then fastened on with toothpicks in an alternating pattern around the foam ball starting from the top.  This was super cute in person.

 

Pinata

Les Enfants Seront Les Enfants

We decided to make our own piñata again, to try it, because if we failed then we could buy something. So my husband made the cardboard shape and I decorated it. Yes! We made another piñata!  This time it was easier and faster for me to make than the Harry Potter one.  And what is more Parisienne than the Eiffel Tower?  The girls and all the kids loved it.

The Photo Booth

Sourire!

So, I think I am obsessed with photo booth stuff, because this is the third birthday I have made one.  SMH.  This time I wanted to take the theme and shed that feeling of Paris on everyone.  I bought some table covers from the dollar store and draped them with one of the signs, then added tissue pompoms and more of those lamp posts.  I thought it came out real cute!

The props; I had my husband make me some that I felt were feminine and different from the past years, so he got to painting.  I love them!

Painting and Face Painting

Quel Visage!

The whole reason for this theme was from my daughter’s request for a painting party.. when I think of art I think of Paris, so she jumped when I suggested it and when I told my youngest she could make the cake she jumped, too hah.

Each guest was given an 8*10 canvas, a pallet, then an array of paints, water and brushes were on the table.  They were free to paint whatever they liked, and my husband guided them all along the way.  They had a great time, didn’t get messy!, and made some impressive pictures..the one photo I got was of the last remaining kid’s paintings unfortunately.

Before lunch was served my mother in law opted to face paint all the children.  She is so talented, and really made some impressive faces for these kids.

All the fun!

Amusement!

All the children had fun, and behaved so well.  The weather worked out in our favor, thankfully. And my family and friends got together for these two beautiful kids who deserve the moon.

I am so glad to have this opportunity each year to make my kids feel special on this day.  They are beyond special to me, and because I know this time of their lives is short-lived, I want to make sure when they look back they know how crazy their mom is for them.  Just like when I look back on my childhood.  

They are my everything.  

Jouyeux Anniversaire mes beautes!!  xoxoxoxo

 

Happy Fourth Flipagram!

Hey everyone!

Hope you guys had a fun filled, safe and fantastic Fourth of July!🇺🇸  God bless, America and Happy Birthday!  We really do live in an amazing country!

Yesterday, we threw a bbq for all of our family and friends.  The weather was hot, the sun was shining and that made me happy!  Hah. We rented an inflatble slipnslide that seemed to keep the kids…and, some adults, cool!

Though it was a great time, so happy to see everyone and enjoyed all the food and sangria….  It just wasn’t the same without my mom there, but she will be home soon! Yay!!

Instead of posting all of my photos individually on here, because I’m starting to lose a little bit of the free space that I’m given  through wordpress, I thought I would just post a flipagram!

And bonus, it comes with holiday themed music! LOL

Hope you all have a great July!  Blog real soon!

Xoxoxo

Click below:

https://flipagram.com/f/s0HhTlO0Ij

First Holy Communion Party

Hey WordPressland!
Our daughter’s First Holy Communion was this Saturday, and it was a wonderful gathering to celebrate our baby girl; which I still can’t believe happened. It seems like yesterday we just celebrated our oldest daughter’s communion, but it was two years ago in fact!  Yeesh!
Saturday we luckily woke up to bright sunny skies, and I jumped out of bed to dress the backyard, transforming it into a garden party.  Very similar to the one we threw for our oldest daughter since I kept a lot of the same accessories.  The weather of the morning was warm, and it was the perfect way to begin this day.  The whole morning meshed well, and the last-minute details went up without a flaw.  Phew, what a relief!  Soon after showering, and letting our kids relax around the house, my parents and sister, with her family, arrived to drop off some amazing homemade desserts and apps, and for my sister, my daughter’s godmother, to present her with a gift.  She gave her a sweet cross bracelet that my daughter can enjoy and wear for years to come, always thinking of her favorite Zia (=aunt). 
We arrived at the church very early, as the communicants had to be there to assemble in the hall downstairs from the church.  Our daughter was one of the first, so she got to take some professional photos early on and chill out waiting for her classmates to show up.  She wasn’t nervous or anything, which I was expecting otherwise.
The church was decorated all in white, with white floral arrangements adorning the altar, and the sun shining in perfectly through the stained glass windows.  So pretty..  I really love the look of my church, which I have mentioned before. It is just so beautiful and feels like home.  The ceremony began, and the children all filed in along the outer aisles of the pews where their artwork was hanging for all of us to see.  There were those nerves I was expecting.  hah  She looked so beautiful in her dress and veil, and she kept giving me the eye to stop making faces at her.  She sat down with us and we got to enjoy the services together.    The whole mass and ceremony felt like it was enjoyable and we got to witness our baby girl take her second sacrament.

 

Soon after the ceremony was over, we got a call that our catering was EARLY and waiting at the house. So we shot one family photo and dashed to the house…this is when the weather decided to cool down a lot, so you will notice the photos of us go from dressed up to sweatshirts quite fast!  ha  oh well.
Now… Let’s talk the whole shindig!!
First…let me backtrack to the start of how we got here.  🙂

The Invitation:

We went with a shabby chic designed invitation which was a perfect match to the garden party theme.
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Her Dress:

Her dress was so pretty, and the photos just don’t capture it right.  The dress was a satin a-line with the top smocking detail of organza, flanked by tiny daisy rhinestone details that sparkled.  She wore the identical shoes of her sister, but in her size, and the same gloves and tiara.  She looked like a doll really.

 

Bomboniere:

So, I am Italian right?  I think. ha.  Well, the party favors are a big deal for us, as I mentioned here.  This time, however, I did not make the confetti that topped the favors, but had them made.  I then purchased frames, placed a cute photo of her in them, wrapped it all in pink and glued the confetti on top.  The frame is a white version of the one we gave away at our oldest daughter’s party.

 

The Cake:

For the cake, I had mashed a few of my wants into this design.  It’s a shabby chic take on an elegant rose inspired cake.  It’s a two tiered cake that was frosted with whipped cream and decorated with roses all along the second tier, and a mass of roses topping the topper.
Since the weather changed so much, we ended up inside for dessert..I changed out the cloth to a sequins one, and placed all the goodies on top.  Yum!
I loved it!

What I crafted:

I have always wanted clear milk bottles for parties.  They are so versatile and just adorable.  For this project, I scored big time acquiring glass bottles for super cheap..$6.99 per box of 6!  I then went to my local craft store to buy some lace and ribbon to change-up the look of these bottles.  I used all water-soluble glue, and got to work.  Here they are:
BTW: the glue came off perfectly after a ten minute soak in hot soapy water..as I just washed them all now. 🙂

 

Decor:

For this party, I used a lot of the same elements from our oldest daughter’s party.  I just had to because for one I already owned them and spent a lot of cash on the stuff, and two I loved how it looked and wanted to make it happen again.
So a shabby chic garden party it was going to be…again!
This time around though, to change it up, I used the color pink to accent around.  This is our daughter’s favorite color and it was an easy way to make the feel of this party different from the other.
The appetizer table:  Inside the house I had draped the kitchen table in a shantung pink table cloth. The table was then set with a large slab of marble, which was dressed with salumeria/cheeses, fruit, chips, balsamic onions and olives. Across from the table I had set up a wine bar stocked with chilled white wine and reds, and shiny glasses.

 

The dining tables: We rented white table clothes, and topped them with my burlap squares as the center runners.  On top of each table, as centerpieces, I used lace laser cut pink planters from Ikea; that I had bought months ago for a super great steal at $3.99 each!  Then inside of each container I placed three 4.5″ pots of very special, locally sourced “Colleen Ritzer daisies” ($7 each) from Konjoian’s Greenhouses.  These daisies were cultivated by The Ritzer family on behalf of their daughter, and the foundation they created in her honor.  The daisies matched the containers perfectly, and with this purchase I feel like I did my quarterly part to give back to a cause.   (I try to donate every quarter, either towards St Jude, Dana Farber/Breast Cancer research or a cause one of my friends are participating in if it hits at the right time.)  Ok back to this day.

 

Here’s some more shots of the day:

Well, that is all I have for pics between myself, my sister and friends.  I didn’t go all “Valeria crazy” taking them because the time just kept escaping me between prepping and breaking down stuff..and drinking wine haha; so I missed out on a lot of formal pictures, but we enjoyed every minute and hope it shows!
Till next time everyone! 
Now who’s going to heat up some arancini for me!?
xoxoxoxoxoxo!!

Halloween Weekend 2015

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Hey Everyone!  
It has been a while, but I have been so caught up with the every day that I just kept pushing updating you further and further.  We are almost in the swing of homework and school fun, so I can push myself to talk to you more again.  I have had great gym news, fun social things that have happened, but just haven’t been able to sit down and grind type it out.  I will start here now since the kids are off to CCD and well, I am finally alone.  Something I haven’t been in a long while.. lol  (and I am a typical Sagittarius;  we love beyond anything being social, but desire alone time to digest life and collect thoughts.)
So.. Halloween came and went this weekend, and I am so super bummed already.  I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOVE Halloween!  I love dressing up the kids.  Myself.  My house. My food. My everything.  It is so much fun to get taken away to a fun time and place when being a kid is so much fun.
This year we headed to my sister’s again. This is two years in a row now.  We used to be the house that everyone (four families) would meet, drink and go out from.  But it all changed three years ago. My town is the lamest town on the planet apparently.  It has its perks, don’t get me wrong, but they have time limits on trick o’treating, which upsets me; and it seems like this year it was an hour shorter.. ugh people.  A few years ago, my Halloween family had an awkward run in with a down the road neighbor for being out ten minutes later than the limit.  The woman was quite rude to our children, and we all decided that it was just enough to force us to go over to my sister’s.  
We love it!  My sister lives near a neighborhood that is lively, and full of kids and families walking around.  Very ET-esque.  One of the best parts is that my husband knows a lot of people from this area, since he grew up and still plays softball in this town.  The other best part is that some of the houses in this nice neighborhood give out great candy, and some have fire-pits and full apple cider bars going.  Needless to say, we stop, hang out and talk to people like we’ve known them for years.  (I love that part!)  I don’t drink cider, of any type, but I love to stop and chit chat, with my own thermos cup o’wine.  ha

Halloween Night

 

Sunday, which is today, is Day of the Dead.  It may be one of my favorite traditions next to Halloween.  I have always had a fascination with it, before it became super trendy and accessible.  We have a party to go to later, so I am taking my costume from yesterday, Halloween, and tweaking it for today…Sugar Skull Snow White.  
Here are pics of it:

 

A Circus Birthday!

Circus Birthday!!

Well, after months of planning and crafting, the day has finally come and gone!

As with all the parties I throw these two, I plan them for months, getting every detail right and craft for weeks.  This year was a blast because it was a free spirited theme, though chaotic, too. Which means anything goes as long as there is music, lots of food and treats..so that is where I started brainstorming.

First, I worked on the decor.  I thought about a color scheme and stuck to turquoise, red and white. So the tables were topped with turquoise then draped with red and white table skirts.  Then the entrance mimicked that idea, with white and red stripes and puffy tissue pom poms that I made.  It came together so well, and I got the best compliments on this party, and it really felt so good.  I do put my heart and soul into this event, so it feels great to hear that everyone appreciates it all and enjoys all the details.

My favorite compliment was from my best friend, he said, “I was waiting to see an elephant come down the driveway!”…that’s awesome!  😛

So let me start with the details and finish with the party pics…

The Decor

I started off with a base of stripes with a splash of color all over.  The entrance was my favorite.  I sort of channeled Tim Burton here, or so I think so!  It was colorful and fun.  I love that my kids started CCD this day, so they left with a bare yard to come home to it all decorated.. all I heard was a scream when they saw it.  That felt great.

There were two photo areas, one set up like a photo booth with a big camera and then another against the house for personal pics behind a draped photo.  It was a lot of fun to see everyone get in on the act!

I had circus themed music streaming for a few hours, something that really lent to the theme so much!

 

Popcorn Party Favor

I had a hard time with this part of the party.  For some reason, the party favor makes my brain go into overdrive..I start thinking about sunglasses, candies and so much.  This year I was walking through the Dollar Store and happened upon these cute popcorn containers and I went from there.  These cost me $1.47 each (for 23 kids), which is super super awesome!!

 

 

Crafted Gumball Machine

I made a lot of things for this party.  This was a favorite of mine though.  I found this tin planter and immediately went with a fake gumball machine.  Grabbed a bubble vase and glued it on..voila.  ADORBZ!

 

 

Wine Bottle Ring Toss

Pinterest is great inspiration, and the ring toss game was NO exception.  Except I put my own twist on it with uneven sized bottles of wine not beer (I dont like beer).  Sprayed them a satin blue and boom, super fun crated game.

I fashioned glow in the dark bracelets in to rings to match.

 

Clown inspired tank top for the girls

These tanks were so easy to make, and to remove the pom poms for future use!   I grabbed plain white tanks from Target, then loosely sewed colored pom poms onto them.  Then fashioned the girls in a tutu, colorful suspenders and a mini top hat.  They looked great with a little eye makeup and lipstick…cutest clowns.

 

Blinged out Birthday Candles

Again, pinterest inspired me to make these candles..and I am so glad!  They came out so cute and were a big aw inspired part of the cake!

The Cake

One night my husband and I designed the cake.  We made so many variations, but ended up with a light yellow base, with a giant red elevated ring in the middle with striped red sides and blue bunting.  We made the cake topper, I blinged it out and it made the cutest cake for this day.

 

Clown Lollipop Tree

So, this craft really came out of depths of me.  I had wanted to make a tree lollipop holder for the dessert table, but somehow, all my thoughts were boring me.  So I started going through my cabinets, and I found a 4″ bubble glass vase.  Within seconds, I found myself making a clown themed tree!!  It came out so great for on the whim, and was a big hit!!

 

The Photo Booth

Sometimes I wish I had event planning type money, but I love making do with what I can.  I grabbed red and white plastic tablecloths, hay bales from my local farm, a printer and rummaged through my house to create this vintage inspired photo booth.  This was a big hit, who knew!, and made a perfect backdrop for this party!

All the fun!

The girls had a great time with their family and close friends, which is all I could ask for here.  With all the cotton candy, popcorn, jumping in the jumpy house and running around taking pictures, it was all so much fun!  No one left without a smile!!

 

Some photos courtesy of my sister and friend  :)

July 4th!

Hey Everyone!

✷Hope you all had a great 4th of July! ✷

We hosted the bbq this year for both sides of our family, very much on the whim, but it came together amazingly well…food was great, booze was plenty and well, I just love being with my crazy family and friends.  🙂

The weather cooperated enough till after we ate.  Thankfully, our house is designed for a party, with the living room and kitchen open to one another.  So seamlessly, we moved the party indoors for dessert once the sprinkles of rain turned into major drop.  It was a fun day spent with everyone laughing and enjoying each other’s company.