Austin's Green and Blue First Birthday Party + FREE PRINTABLES

My little monkey turned 1 at the end of June and I finally have time to blog about it! Life has been busy - surprise, surprise! 

For Austin's 1st birthday, I choose to do a simple green and blue and bunting theme. I looked through different ideas on Pinterest, and decided to keep it simple. First I created an invitation in Microsoft Word and just Facebook messaged it to family and friends - if I was actually "on the ball" I could mail out the invitations, but I never have enough time.

The bunting graphic was a free clip-art, and everything else I just created in Word. You can download the free ONE graphic I created here: Black Background or White Background.

I kept the decorations fairly simple as well. I created a PARTY banner to put on our front door (download the free printable here), and a HAPPY BIRTHDAY bunting banner to put on the wall above the couch in the living room (download the free printable here). Different colours of blue and green balloons finished the decorating - hanging from the chandelier and on the posts outside that flank our front door.

The food disappeared quickly and I didn't have a chance to take pictures of the spread we had. But it was the classic party foods that we usually serve - cheese and crackers, veggies, spinach dip and hamburgers and hotdogs for lunch. I created some "food cards", and you can download the free printable here - PDF or JPG. I found blue cups, green and blue plates and napkins at the Dollar Store to continue with our blue and green theme. With all the leftover cake pieces (see below) I created some super delicious cake bonbons (I didn't have any skewers so they weren't cake pops), and I ended up eating most of them.... I think we had too much food!

For Austin's cake I wanted to go a little more simple, aka no fondant. So I went with the classic "1" cake and added some food colouring to the batter for some flare. I got the green and blue M & M's at the bulk food store, and got my husband to pick out all the blue and green ones from the large bag I took home. 

We were expecting some little ones at the party so I made up some special goody bags - wasn't that always the best part of going to a birthday party as a kid?! I hit up the dollar store and got some little toys, and then I got some gummi bears and worms from the bulk food store. I created the goody bag tags to fit over any standard sandwich bag - so I just stuffed each Ziploc bag and then stapled the Thank-You tag overtop. They turned out great! Kaylen brought hers to church in the morning ... before the party.... To download the free goody bag tags click here: PDF or JPG.

The night before I whipped up a special shirt and bib for the Aus-man. I had meant to do this with Kaylen's birthday and just ran out of time, so I made sure I had at least a couple of hours the night before Austin's party to complete this project. They turned out super cute (and then I forgot to give Austin a piece of cake to he didn't even get to use the bib!) Yep, I forgot the classic 1st birthday cake smash. Oh well, maybe I'll just make another cake and do a "faux" photo shoot on of these days with his bib.

It was a great day - super hot so I was quite thankful for our A/C. Austin got spoiled, food got eaten and we all had fun! Here are a few pictures of the birthday boy on his special day.

 Thanks to everyone who made my little man's first birthday special!

Count Your Blessings

This post has been on my heart for quite a while. Yep another "real life" post. In a nut shell it's about counting your blessings and being happy with the life you have.

This song keeps playing in my head:

When upon life's billow you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings - wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.

This song essentially sums up what my post is about. So often we focus on all the negative around us and forget to focus on all the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon us.

Let's start here - you know those "woe is me" people? The ones who are constantly focusing on the negative and just drag you down? I know some and I have found that for me to be happy I need to distance myself from them. We were newly married and my husband and I would meet "someone" for dinner, and every time we left I would feel so down and depressed. I finally told my husband I couldn't go out for dinner with this person anymore - it was starting to affect me too much both physically and emotionally. All we ever heard was negative, and it started to turn my thinking negative. 

Don't get me wrong, we can all have "woe is me" moments, but I think it's so important to not make this your lifestyle. It's not healthy for you or those around you. The Lord has blessed us all so immensely that there is no reason to have a "woe is me" attitude. Sometimes you may need to dig deep past all the negatives to find those blessings, but they are there!

Here are some examples I have thought of:

My dirty messy home. It doesn't matter what I do, how often I clean, it is still messy! But then I think of why it is messy - I have two amazing little children who take up most of my time, and I let them run free through my house because it is their house too. And this means there is food on the floor, and toys scattered everywhere, and laundry piling up, and beds unmade, and the list goes on and on and on. And I could focus on those negatives, or I can focus on the fact that my home is the way it is because of those two amazing little blessings I have. Would I trade a clean house for my two little ones? Never. I will take a messy home everyday. So the next time your home is a mess, think about the positives and the little (or not so little) ones that are happily making that house a mess!

Our home. Do you live in a brand new beautiful home? Wow, you are blessed! You could be living in a renovation disaster like we are. But then I look at my beautiful kitchen and I am so thankful that we were able to renovate it and I can enjoy it. And then I look at the fact that we own our home! That right there is a huge blessing to be thankful for! We could be in an apartment, putting money away every month, saving for a down payment, dreaming of the day of home ownership. Or we could be couch surfing because we can't even afford rent. Be thankful for the roof over your head that the Lord has provided for you - it could be so much worse!

Our children. Today my kids did this, and this and didn't listen to me on this account, and on and on and on. As parents we can totally focus on all the negative things our children do on a daily basis and how difficult our lives are because of them. And if you are a "woe is me" attitude that is what you do. There are days when my kids drive me crazy - I have a 3-year-old with selective hearing and a crazy smart little mommy's boy 1-year-old. Daily life is not easy. And some days are hard. But when it comes down to it, every day is awesome! Why? Because I have two amazing little ones to drive me crazy! There are so many people that would do anything to be in my shoes and have two little ones. There are so many people in today's world who struggle with having children. So who am I to complain about the ones I have? I have been blessed with them and I try to make a conscious effort to enjoy my moments with them.

They are happy and healthy and smart and growing up way too fast! Why would I spend these precious moments focusing on the negatives? Did I mention they are healthy? How many parents out there are dealing with sick little ones? Be happy your kids are healthy - that is a HUGE blessing!

Being a mom. As a mom I am my kids' main caretaker. I am blessed with the ability to stay home with them and work from home. It's very busy, but I wouldn't trade it. So many moms have to work outside the home and put their kids in daycare, and I am blessed to be able to work from home. If you are a true stay at home mom you are even more blessed! I truly believe being a mom is the most rewarding job out there, and no matter how difficult some days may be I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

Most days I feel like a single-mom because my husband works far away and leaves early and comes home late, or he has sports or meetings at night. It's not easy. But I am blessed to have a partner who, when I am curled up in bed sick with the flu, can take care of the kids. I am blessed with a husband who loves his job and works hard to provide for our family. And I focus on the fact that this is just the stage of life that we are in right now, and enjoy all the moments I get to spend with my kids. It's hard for my husband missing so much time with our kids - so I try to focus on the fact that I DO get to spend all that time with them.

Count Your Blessings
I truly believe life is what you make it. If you want a happy life - make an effort. A happy life is not easy, it takes work, a lot of work. It takes a lot of love and forgiveness and counting of your blessings and moving on from the past. Ever since we got married we have been bombarded with different negatives. But we have also been blessed with so many positives - the biggest of which are our children. So my husband and I choose to focus on the positives, and we don't have a lot of room for the "woe is me" attitude. We choose to look forward to the future and try not to live in the past - it's in the past so there is no reason to dwell on it. We choose to count our blessings!

Have you counted your blessings lately? Focusing on the positive things in your life makes life so much more enjoyable! So the next time you are "running ragged" and are exhausted and frustrated (like every night!), think about all the blessings you have and be happy!

Quick Tip Mondays - Remove Carpet Stains with Vinegar

It's Monday - and it's actually Monday today! :) Time for a simple quick tip. This tip was taught to me by my Grandma. In our previous home we had white carpet EVERYWHERE - living room, dining room, bedrooms, stairs. And it is not easy to keep clean. My Grandma was over one time and she told me that a little vinegar goes a long way in getting rid of those carpet stains. And she was right!

You get out your bottle of vinegar and pour some onto the stain. Dot it into the stain with your finger. After about 30 seconds (you can leave it longer for bigger stains), you get out your washcloth and start "scrubbing". With a little elbow grease the stain comes right out.

*This has worked for most stains for me. I can't guarantee it will get out ALL stains, but will definitely help in most cases.

Hope you all have a great Monday! Thanks for stopping by!

Quick Tip Mondays - Clean Your House BEFORE You Go on Vacation

It's Monday, sorry it's actually Thursday. I missed Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday .....

We had a busy weekend spent up at the cottage - my family and all my siblings and no parents - talk about weird and not near as much fun! And because my mom wasn't there it was our responsibility to keep the cottage clean (I sound like a spoiled brat don't I!). So I worked extra hard to make sure the cottage was clean all weekend. (don't worry my brothers helped out too).

So what does this have to do with a quick tip? Well, cleaning a small cottage isn't too difficult, but it sure isn't fun to clean it all weekend, and then come home and your house is a disaster. We came home Monday night and it looked like a tornado had gone through our house (I call it Tornado Kaylen and Austin!). And as I looked around at the mess I wished I had made more of an effort to clean up the kitchen and family room before we left. It would have meant some more organization on my part as I was running around like crazy before we left.

So my quick tip for this week is just that - make an effort to clean/organize your home BEFORE you go on vacation, because there is nothing worse than coming home after vacation and having to clean up the mess. It's a simple DUH! kind of tip that most people already do, but a good reminder for me and maybe for you too!

Have a great Thursday everyone!