I LOVE Thanksgiving and everything that it includes, but would be lying if I didn't admit that the idea of cooking a big Thanksgiving turkey and feast intimidates me to an extreme level. I can't even pick up a turkey at the grocery store without the vegetarian in me getting grossed out, but lucky for me we've had amazing friends to do a "Friends-giving" dinner with every year that we've been away from family, so for now I've been able to avoid the daunting turkey task. 😉 This year I got assigned to the table settings for our Thanksgiving feast, and was SO excited to have a November project to work on that didn't involve cooking for a huge group of people. Since dental school is still putting us at a "poor college student" level, I also had the challenge of making things look nice on a small budget. I ultimately decided to do a combination of actual dinnerware, some disposable items, and of course a little creative DIY touch to create something that will hopefully look really nice once all put together with everyone else's delicious cooking. 🙂 These cute little utensil holders are SO easy, quick, and inexpensive to make, and the best part about them is that they can be completely personalized to fit your own dinner table by printing them on different colored card stock, or even by adding extra ribbon, burlap, glitter, etc to fit your preference. As always, have fun with it and happy DIY-ing!
DIY: Thanksgiving utensil holders
skill level: easy | total cost: FREE! (or $5 max on paper) | Total Time: 30 min
Happy Halloween to all of our friends and family from your Waldo, Wenda, and Woof crew! We love to travel and take adventures together wherever and whenever we can, but have found over the last year that our biggest adventures have taken place close to home, watching our sweet little Emery (or Woof) run, grow, laugh, play, and enjoy toddler life to it's fullest extent. Emery has been loving all of the Halloween celebrations this year, and I've had SO much fun experiencing everything with her! So far to celebrate we've: gone to Boo at the Zoo, learned that Emery LOVES trick or treating and candy, threw a Halloween party for our dental school mom & baby friends, read Halloween books, went pumpkin picking, and had a fun family Halloween party with a few of our closer dental school friends. We (mostly I) also had absolutely no self-control when it came to picking just one costume for Emery this year, and in addition to our family Waldo get-up, also have dressed her up as Minnie Mouse and a black cat.
Kyle was the one to make the final call on our family costume this year, and I was pretty excited about his decision. I'd secretly wanted us to dress up as Waldo & Wenda for years before Emery came along, but making it a family costume with Emery too made it better than I think it ever could've been with just the two of us! These costumes were also ridiculously easy to put together since the main items to find where red & white striped shirts. The rest of the items were a combination of items we already had in our closets/some DIY work (My glasses are literally just my prescription glasses that I wear every day) and Amazon for a few other items to complete the look! Keeping the costumes simple helped to keep my stress levels low so that I could more fully enjoy the celebrations, and give more time and energy to Em's other two costumes. 😜 For any that read more for the creative/how-to aspect of this blog, here are the details for our costumes and where everything came from:
Kyle || beanie: originally from Amazon for last year's costume, with a white DIY yarn pom-pom sewn on top | shirt: Aeropostale (thrifted, because apparently rugby shirts have been "out" for about a decade 😆 ) | glasses: Target? We've had these ones for years as costume glasses but most stores carry something similar. walking stick: Amazon. We also tied a bunch of random items to the straps of Kyle's backpack for all the places that "Waldo" has visited.
Chelsea || beanie & shirt: Gap | skirt: j.crew (thrifted) | purse: thrifted | socks: Amazon | scarf: Hobby Lobby | Boots: Nordstrom Rack. My favorite part of my costume this year was my red lipstick. I've made the mistake of wearing red lips on Halloween before and having them look absolutely wretched by the end of the night with fading/bleeding, so this year I was prepared and wore "Fly Girl" Lipsense and it worked like a charm! I don't sell it and this isn't sponsored, I'm just seriously obsessed with red lips and love that I have a way to wear them ALL day!
Emery || beanie: Amazon | onesie: Walmart | socks: Two Dreams Shop | moccs: Freshly Picked | glasses: completely DIY-ed and SO easy to make! All I did was pop the lenses out of an old pair of her sunglasses, then gave them a couple of coats of black acrylic paint and that's it! Also, the white jacket wasn't originally supposed to be a part of her costume, but Kentucky got hit with a crazy cold spell this past weekend and her onesie is short sleeved so...... jacket it is!
I know that actual Halloween is still a couple of days away, but the older Emery gets the more I find that living in the moment is absolutely necessary to be able to fully experience and appreciate it, and I don't want to miss a single one of these memories with my sweet little family. We'll be spending our end of October at a Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular to make up for us not carving any pumpkins, and then taking our sweet little Woof/Minnie/Black Cat (depending on what she most feels like that day 😜 ) trick-or-treating in our favorite neighborhood with friends. I'm so excited for the celebrations ahead and the time we'll have together as a family!
We hope that everyone has a fun and safe Halloween night with those you love most!
In my opinion, one of the best things about fall and the approaching holiday season is that it also means the beginning of holiday parties and get-togethers with good friends. Since party planning happens to be one of my favorite hobbies to indulge in, I've been entertaining the idea of throwing some sort of Halloween party in my head since our pool closed on Labor Day. 😜 With all of the different fall festivals and activities available on the weekend's and evenings here in Louisville, I got the idea to throw a party during the day so that it wouldn't conflict with all of the other events. Since everyone's husbands are gone at dental school during the daytime, this specific party was able to be put together completely for the benefit of all of the dental school baby & mama friends that Emery and I have come to love and appreciate so much over these past couple of years. Everyone came together for games and Halloween themed treats to celebrate the holiday and each other, and we had a "spook"-tacular time!
Since our dental school baby age range runs from a couple of months to 4 years old, I tried to keep the food and game options at a level that babies and toddler aged kids could really enjoy and get into. For food we had PB&J sandwiches cut into bat and pumpkin shapes (thus eliminating the gross crust AND making them fun to eat), mummy-wrapped applesauce pouches, string cheese ghosts, jack-o-lantern clementines, candy corn cupcakes, and a fun harvest Chex Mix that was equally adorable and delicious. I'd love to take credit for all of the cute food ideas, but found the majority of the food inspiration on Pinterest, so to give credit to the original creators of these fun lunch treats, links to the individual posts (with recipes & tutorials) are all included for your benefit! I was able to get a little more original with the Halloween games that we played, and included pumpkin painting (mini Trader Joe's pumpkins with Crayola washable, non-toxic finger paints), pin the bowtie on the skeleton, the classic "doughnut on a string" game but with miniature doughnuts for toddler-sized mouths, and a Halloween bowling game made from empty cans and acrylic paint on my part to make the pins look like classic Halloween characters. I also included a few store-bought games from Target like a Halloween matching game, monster face stickers on paper cups, a soft pumpkin toss game, and bubbles so that even the littlest of guests could participate and enjoy.
Overall the party was SO much fun, and I'm so so glad that so many of our sweet friends were able to make it out to celebrate with us (the picture below is missing a few mamas that had to leave early). I'm also EXTREMELY grateful for all of my sweet girlfriends that offered up help to make the party come together. The cupcakes, clementines, and Chex Mix were all made by a few of the sweet mamas below, and the day before/morning of the party I had a couple of my girlfriends over at my house sacrificing their alone time during their kiddo's naps to help me put together the rest of the last minute details. These amazing girls are what makes this dental school journey not only bearable but even enjoyable, and I know that these friendships are some that I'll cherish literally for the rest of my life. Thank you so much to all of those that came and especially all of those that helped! Em & I love & appreciate you all so much! ❤️
Well, it happened. I blinked and the next thing I knew an entire year had come and gone and my sweet baby girl had already turned a year old. I felt a whole range of emotions in Emery's first birthday that I'll probably write more about later (along with some ADORABLE one year pictures), but today I figured I'd focus on the exciting part of her growing and the fact that we got to celebrate her with the cutest little birthday party for her special day! With how much of a planner I am, I'd been thinking of different ideas for Emery's birthday since about her 8 month mark (which could also be part of the reason that I've been anticipating it so much 🙄 ) and so badly wanted to make it the perfect day for her. A couple of friends suggested doing the party around something that Emery really enjoyed to make it more personal for her, and I ultimately decided on a fruit themed party because Emery loves fruit and eating probably more than she loves me (kidding.... kind of). I lucked out because fruit seemed to become the hottest new thing the closer summer got, so finding ideas for decorations, etc was easier than I thought!
We decided to do the party at a local splash pad since another one of Emery's favorite things is being outside and playing out in the water, and for food we stuck to the overall theme with fruit kabobs, popsicles, and bottled water to drink ... basically a whole lot of sugar but what are birthday parties for right?! My girlfriend Brette made Emery's smash cake and the birthday cake for all of the guests and OH MY GOSH. You guys I seriously can't get over how amazing they turned out!! They looked absolutely adorable and tasted SO GOOD! This wasn't the first time I'd enjoyed her cake (nor will it be the last I'm sure 😉 ) but it was so special having her cake made especially for Emery's birthday! Thanks so much again Brette! Your talent is amazing!!
It was so much fun being able to spend the day through the eyes of Emery and enjoy the things that she enjoys most. In a lot of ways I feel like that's one of the best parts of being a mom; it's basically an amazing opportunity to enjoy all of the simple joys in life with your child as they experience them all for the first time, and I'm so grateful that I get that chance with my little E!
(Apparently this is what happens when you try to get all of the kiddos together for a
picture when there's fun to be had .... #momfail #itsmypartyandillcryifiwantto 😂 )
The one hard part about Emery's birthday was not having any of our family there to celebrate with us. We love Kentucky so so much but it's times like these that you really wish grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins could be close by to join in on all the fun! It's also times like these though that I realize just how incredibly blessed we are to have such wonderful friends here in our dental school community. In my obsession to be as prepared as possible for Emery's party I used a GPS to get us to the splash pad, even though I'd been there enough times before to know the way, just in case there was any unknown traffic that we needed to avoid in order to get everything set up in time. Instead of getting us to the park faster than normal, Apple maps decided to take us on a route that put us a good 15 miles off course and ended up making us late to our own party. I felt so embarrassed about the situation and was pretty flustered by the time we finally made it to the splash pad, but all of my girlfriends literally swooped in and saved the day by making sure that we had tables reserved for the food and gifts and by helping me get everything set up in less than five minutes so that we could get into the party and the fun. On top of that they all helped with picking up/preparing the fruit and kabobs, actually getting any pictures/video at the party (literally the only reason I got a picture of all three of us was because one of my girlfriends stepped in and said we needed to get one) and seriously just made the whole thing come together so smoothly! I seriously couldn't thank all of my sweet friends enough for all of the help in bringing Em's party together, and really do feel like we have such a sweet Kentucky family here. ❤️ I seriously love you all so much!
A big thank you to all of our sweet family and friends who didn't get to see Emery on her actual birthday but still showed all of the love and support though gifts, phone calls, Facetime, text messages, and messages on Facebook & Instagram. I know I keep saying it but the love that we feel from all of you especially on Emery's special day could literally just make my heart burst!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! A million times thank you!!
It was 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday, and as I heard my daughter's whines and cries of "mama" through the baby monitor I groaned and remembered the days when my only alarm clock on the weekends was sunlight through the curtains and my hungry stomach ready for breakfast. I nudged Kyle to see if he would get up and bring Emery into our room, and he made the joke that she was calling for me, and to be glad that she at least knows how to say my name (we're still working on the whole "dada" thing 😉 ). I rolled my eyes and then got out of bed to go get Emery, and couldn't help but smile when I opened the door to her bedroom and saw her immediately light up and start bouncing and squawking excitedly at my arrival to take her out of her crib. I brought her into bed with Kyle and I with hopes of having us all go back to sleep for a little bit longer, but quickly gave up on the idea once I realized that Emery was up and ready to party, and making it clear by bouncing and crawling over every surface of our bed. I thought again back to mine and Kyle's pre-baby days of sleeping in, but this time I smiled because I knew that the way that things are now bring so much more happiness than sleeping in late on a Sunday morning. Life as a mother brings SO many challenges, but the blessings that it carries far outweighs any sort of frustration or struggle encountered along the way.
I had a friend/small shop owner pose the question in a Facebook group, "What is your favorite part about being a mom"? As different mamas posted their individual answers to the question, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of love that I could see each of these women had for their children. It also made me think long and hard about what specifically I love most about being a mom. There's obviously a million things that could be added to that list, but the more I thought about the question, the more I realized just how much value the knowledge of it's answer holds. So in honor of Mother's Day this weekend, I decided to sit and write a message to my one sweet daughter about my absolute favorite things about being her mom. I write the letter for her, in hopes that she'll one day look back and read about how much she's always been loved, but I also write for me, so that on those days when dreaded "mom guilt" steps in and I feel like I'm not doing nearly as well as I should be, I can look back and read and remember all of those most important things that bring me so much joy, and I feel like that will make all of the difference.
A very happy Mother's Day to all of my fellow mamas out there, whether you're a mom of two, ten, one, a mom-to-be, a mama with angel babies, grand-babies, and anything in between. I love you all dearly, and think that you're all amazing for all that you do. Enjoy your day for you!
I'm Chelsea. I'm a wife, mommy, photographer, and lover of life's little adventures. Join me here to celebrate the beautiful things in people and life.