Take a PIC baby, please!

Photo shoot of the newbie….

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I do not believe there is anything more sparkly in the world, than a brand new baby! I mean, puppies and lit Christmas trees come close, but nothing beats that new baby smell! 🙂

I have been blessed with four little girls from my sisters, three little boys from one sister-in-law and two more princesses from the  other.  I absolutely adore my nieces and nephews, and snap pictures of them any chance I get. This is mostly because I feel like every time I look at them, they look different—they’ve grown more, a new tooth grew in (or is trying to), taller, chubbier, and doing something new. They are at an age of such growth and exploration, there is always something new they’ve learned, or want to show me. I can’t help but try to document the moment… to their dismay at times.

So this should come as no surprise, that when it comes to our newest addition, I was pressed to say the least to get some photos. Our newest little one is already feisty! And she made it clear throughout the shoot that she did not appreciate her nap time being interrupted for pictures.  But all in all, we still did manage to capture some precious family memories… right around the house.

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How to add sparkle to a home photoshoot?

  1. Coordinate: Outfits that is. Matching the participants is one surefire way to show you’ve put thought into this photo. It adds an air of sophistication to even the most humble shoots. Whether it be a color, or shoe type, we had all three wear moccasins, it connects those in the picture with each other.

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    The three little sisters wore white with colored moccasins 

  2. Plan: A little bit of forethought goes a long way. Think about what the purpose of this shoot is, and how long can you realistically get your participants to sit still (with a 6 year old, 2 year old and 1month old, it wasn’t long!).  Ensure they are well fed, and find ways to keep them occupied that doesn’t include dirtying their clothes.  Also, think about the time of day and make sure you have help!  One person can make all the difference.
  3. Use what you have: All of these photos were shot around the house, I made use of lighting, and the various bedrooms and back yard, and they turned out great.  I accomplished my goal of capturing pictures that told the world “my new niece is here!”

Now #sparkleon y’all! Go get some pictures that you will cherish for the rest of your lives!

 

Xoxo

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#SheSaidYes!

In late Summer of 2005 I met Antonia. We were in the same orientation group of our freshman class at Boston University. She loves to tell the story this way ” You walked right up to me and said ‘you gone be my friend’ and we were friends ever since.” Her telling of that story  always makes me smile as I remember how our friendship began.

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Late in 2015 I received a call from Antonia informing me of her engagement!! I’ve long admired her relationship with her college sweetheart… HS prom date, Phil. a respectable young man who absolutely loved and adored my friend. And she 100% deserved it.

It was that moment that I started planning her bachelorette.

So, because this was such a huge undertaking, I will likely do two posts. This first post will be on the preparation for undertaking such a memorable event, and the second part will be the actual weekend of festivities.  That will also include what I learned from the actual execution and any tips or suggestions I now have.

First thing’s First, bride’s input! This is super important, while this sounds like common sense; it is the part that we likely skip! We start planning a weekend that we think would be tons of fun, but forgetting to get the thoughts of the honoree would be a major mistake! Had myself and the maid of honor planned this weekend as we saw fit… this would have been a Vegas showdown of epic proportions. However, when the two of us got on the phone with the bride, we quickly realized her idea of fun was a lot more laid back.  So definitely ask the Mrs. To Be what her ideal weekend will include.  Stay away from getting too specific on activities (we do not want her planning her own weekend now) but get a more general idea as to what she wants the feeling of the weekend to be.  A couple questions that should be asked:

  1. Location/ Region: find out from her where she wants to go or if there is a type of place she wants to spend this weekend?
    1. For example, does she want to be near a beach? Lake Front? Or City night life?
  2. Atmosphere for the weekend: Find out from her if she wanted a chill weekend with her girls, or a co-ed (Jack and Jill) party weekend with little to no sleep?
  3. Invite List: This is critical! You cannot assume that the guest list should only be comprised of her bridesmaids. A lot of brides know who they do and do not want there, and it all depends on the type of weekend they want to have. So  you have to ask this question.
  4. Cool Activities: Find out from the bride if there are any activities she would love to experience during the weekend. This will be helpful for you as you create the itinerary.
  5. Favorite Foods and Drinks: This is a great way to ensure the bride feels honored. Find out her favorite foods, snacks and drinks to really personalize the weekend.
  6. Potential Dates: As this is an extremely busy time for your bride, it is important that you coordinate with the bride to make sure you will not run into any other important events.
    1. *Tip* It would be great if you can schedule this after the Bridal Shower,  Normally, there is a time period between that and the wedding weekend activities. Which is a great time for a get-away for an over extended bride.

 

Now that you have a basis for planning, I suggest you come up with preliminary plans/ ideas. Before reaching out to the group of ladies (and gents) who will be attending, get a general idea of what the weekend will be like. It is helpful to have some form to the weekend; otherwise this can get overwhelming quickly.  In your primary correspondence with attendees include the date, suggested activities, and a preliminary budget.  This gives people enough information to decide if they will be able to participate in this event.  I’ve included a sample preliminary email < gmail-response-requested-antonias-girls-weekend>.

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Once I had initial interest from those attending, I started using my Microsoft notebook more intensely. I created a few different pages. I had a page that I would just post random ideas for décor, keepsakes and fun bachelorette ideas. I also posted links to a few blogs that I found extremely helpful!  (I will share those specific links in the second post).  It is great to have one place to put all the various ideas you may have.

Shaping the Itinerary

I have this as its own little segment because it is all encompassing for the weekend. Once you’ve shared preliminary ideas, and have given everyone an opportunity to share their ideas, shaping the itinerary is a very helpful way to get you organized. The itinerary can also help you decide how you plan to decorate your space for the weekend. Basic things to include in your itinerary:

  • Travel Information: When would you like everyone to arrive by? And what’s the earliest they should leave?—This helps give you a standard amount of time to work with. You know when everyone should be there by and the  time you have.  Share with them the local Airports, Train Stations and if driving is an option, closet highway.
  • Meal Planning: Clearly state what the options are for every meal. This will help others organize financially and especially if we have any special dietary needs it helps us select restaurants that will appeal to all.
  • Activities: This helps set the tone and also assists with packing. Will there be a beach day? Or 4×4 driving?  These activities require special attire—so it is great for those attending to know this, and for you to call this out for them.
    • Also include if there are any group activities that need preparation. <In Post #2 I will discuss the scrapbook, nostalgic dinner and lingerie party we had for this Girls Weekend>

Once you’ve prepared the initial itinerary share with the participants to get feedback. You can have the various options included in the itinerary and have people vote for which they believe will best serve the group.  This serves two purposes:

  1. It helps everyone feel involved in the planning, and therefore people are more invested
  2. It takes the pressure off of you in making all the decisions. Its helpful by this point to have a few point of views.

You’ll probably have a few iterations of the document before the final document is completed. I’ve included my itinerary  to show the level of specificity I choose to do. However, for the needs of your group, you should be as vague or specific as you feel appropriate.  The purpose of this document is to have everyone be on the same page as far as expectations.

Finally, order any and all decorations and keepsakes with time to spare. I ended up having a really close call with the personalized tumblers we ordered for each lady attending.  While we were able to organize for the tumblers to travel with a member of our group who was coming in a little later, it could have been a really bad mishap on our part that could have easily been avoided through ordering a bit earlier.

I think that I’ve shared enough regarding the planning of the weekend. Next stop? Execution.

#SheSaidYes Part 2

The 3rd Annual Green Baby Sprinkle

A running joke in my family is my sister’s, Aaliya, growing family! In 6 short years she has managed to get engaged and married and have three beautiful little girls! For a while it seemed as if our growing family was unstoppable as well as the excitement and chaos!

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#TheGreenGirls

All of the planning and prepping can become rather demanding, however, it was a labor of love!  One of the most intensive undertakings was this baby shower. Scheduled for Memorial Day weekend and only a few weeks after me starting my new job, it would definitely be a challenge. Lucky for me I had tons of help from family and friends  willing to pitch in.

A baby shower is a great way to add a little more sparkle to the journey to motherhood.  Like the gender reveal party, it is an opportunity to invite all the ones you love to celebrate this milestone with you. Unlike the gender reveal, it may not be as intimate or as simple– however, it can still be a really fun event!!

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The Sweetness of Life Table!

How to make your shower sparkly?

Well, for me, it is super important not to loose the original thought behind a shower: to shower the expecting parents with love, blessings and gifts!  With that being said, I really do not believe in spending tons of money on these events, as I believe  that goes against the whole point.

#AlmostHomeMade

Almost homemade was a show on the Food Network which taught great shortcuts when cooking. Sometimes you would start with a box cake which would be doctored up, or perhaps canned food as the base to your Shepard’s pie.  The idea of the show was still preparing things at home, but finding ways to make it easier.  It was this approach we took to the sprinkle.  Seeing as this wasn’t our first baby shower, we had a template already for how to execute the event. Here are the general responsibilities that were allocated:

  1. Food: We tackled this with a mix of ordered catering and homemade meals. By ordering some staples in large quantities, it took the pressure of those of us cooking.  I was personally able to bake various treats that I’ll post below.
  2. Decorations:  Now we didn’t want to spend too much here, but wanted to set an ambience.  My sister wanted an African Print shower  to honor our heritage.  To compliment the different patterns we used gold for accessories to tie everything together.

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    African Print Table Runner and Mason Jar Candle Holders

  3. Music/ DJ: Luckily for us we have a few DJs in the family which made this aspect super easy. We asked and they happily complied.
  4. Games: now what is a shower without fun games? It was great to have a mistress of ceremonies focused only on how we would spend our time. Kyia found some really great games; the challenge to this was, since this was the 3rd baby… And technically just a “baby sprinkle” we wanted to make sure to keep people entertained with new and exciting games.  Kyia had a great mix of games, some were super passive like guess the number of diapers in the basket; and some were super active like the one I’ll call “multitasking mama” which had the contestants doing a variety of tasks that mommies often do throughout the day.

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    Mistress of Games! Here she is with the homemade Diaper cake she made for the shower!

With this Sprinkle I choose to take on Décor/Decoration and Sweets. To decorate the backyard we did a few things:

  • Purchased Material: We kept it simple with white as the background color and gold as an accent color. The different patterned materials added all the lively fun we needed.  To save money, instead of covering the whole tables with the material, which would mean more yards, and therefore more money, we did the material as runners. Another fun thing we did was create little flag banners to hang around the yard. These were super easy to create and looked great when completed.  For your convenience, I’ve inserted a link on how to create flag banners
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A close up of homemade mini- cupcakes and the table runners we made!

  • Mason Jar Candle Holders: These are a go to! I love these things, so simple and fun. The best part about these specific ones are they are recycled! That’s right. We used them previously for my sister’s 25th Birthday Dinner Party, however, they were blue instead of the required gold. So to reuse these simple yet glam jars we sanded the glitter off of the jars and then reapplied the desired color. These are such great little décor pieces to have. We live outside as a family in the summer, and anytime we were going to be outside into the night, we would put a couple of these on the table. The amber glow really adds to ambience.
  • Random Treasures Around The House: Another big help (and money saver) for the sweets table were the gems that my mother already had! We all know someone who has a bunch of treasures hidden in plain sight. My mother had a couple glass and crystal cake stands, a double layered gold  stand and a bunch of gold servers and treys! This saved so much money and added to the perfect set up of the table.  Before going out and purchasing new, check around with your friends and family to see what you can borrow!
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Borrowed my mother’s layered stand!

  • Candy Jars: What I did invest in for this party were different shaped jars for candy. I thought this was a great investment because the jars are so cute and versatile. I could use them for events in the future (holding cookies, candy canes or whatever else I’d like); and I could also use them for décor (fill them with Christmas ornaments and you have a great centerpiece for your table). The various shapes and sizes added interesting lines to the table and depth.
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#TheGreenGirls

Finally, to fill up the jars I purchased bulk candy. I suggest visiting various sites to figure out what works best for you, but I ordered mine from . They shipped on time and the candy was yummy!  I baked the cupcakes and cake from scratch using Martha Stewart recipes found on her site.  The three kinds of cakes/ cupcakes I made were:

  1. Brown Sugar Pound Cake with a Maple Glaze
  2. Chocolate Chip  Cake with Chocolate Chip Frosting
  3. Chocolate Cupcakes with Basic Buttercream Frosting

In the end, everyone had a great time but most importantly, Mommy and Daddy to be really felt special and taken care of.  My new niece arrived the following month (three days after her eldest sister and two days after her older cousin) and our family spent the summer cooing over her! You can check out her “Welcome” pics here.

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The Growing Family added their own Sparkle through coordinated outfits! 🙂

Just make sure you have fun during the process and on the day of!

Until next time,

Sparkle On!