Photography : First Birthday

Written By Jen

Simply Sweet!  A few weekends ago, we were celebrating our friends daughter’s first birthday.   Everything was so cute, I had to run home and grab my camera.   The birthday girl left her wings on for the entire party, I was so impressed!   Here are a few things I liked from a photography standpoint on these images.

This picture looked amazing black and white.  I think black and white images are classic.  I see her beautiful face and the number one, there is less distraction so I see finer details. There was a little discoloration in the grass, in the black and white it is not as eye-catching as it is in the color version of this photo.  I usually like soft black and white for children compared to harsh contrast.  It keeps them looking as sweet as they are.

On this image I like the simple background.  The grass says, “summer” and it’s a brilliant green background.  The tutu adds nice texture to the photo and it’s adorable.  The wings are a fantastic accessory for a fairy first birthday.  Her shirt is perfect!

This picture shows a little personality which I LOVE!  She has two older brothers to keep up with.  She may be a princess but, she’s not afraid of a little dirt!  Remember those mile stones, when your kids baby teeth are coming in? You have to capture that.  Just a couple tiny little teeth in that cute mouth.

Profile pictures are better if you can see at least, the eyelashes of your subject on the far side of their face.  I love the genuine smile and her bright eyes.

My friend Amanda is such a smart shopper I asked her to share with us where she got the outfit. Amanda said, “I got the shirt at Target on clearance for under $2.  I got the wings off amazon.  I got the tutu at children’s place, but I don’t see it listed online.”  Great finds!

I do believe God is crazy about children.  Here is what Jesus said in Luke 18:15-17 “People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”  Jesus loves, stands for and, sees great value in children. Love that!

Celebrate : A Lovely Gift For a Friend

Written By Jen

We gave Kristina an awesome going away gift!  It is easy and a great memory.  According to Kristina, “It was one of the best gifts she has ever gotten.” We did the same thing for Scott’s Grandma’s 90th birthday. She was delighted. If you want a meaningful lovely gift here is an idea that will knock it out of the park.  It is a gift from all their friends not just one friend and, this makes the gift heart-warming and a true treasure.

Here are the supplies you need:

A 3 ring photo album for 8.5×11 pages
1 ream of 8.5×11 White Card Stock
9×12 envelopes
10x 13 envelopes
The addresses from your friend who is moving of their friends that they would have coffee or a meal with.  Their friends whom they hang out with.
Stamps (for both the inner and outer envelopes)
8.5×11 page protectors
1. Ask your friend who is moving for the addresses of her friends who she would have coffee or a meal with.
2. The number of addresses she gives you plus 10 is the number of envelopes you need to buy.  You need that number of 9×12 envelopes and the same number of 10x 13 envelopes.
3. Take the that number of addresses multiplied by 4 and that is the number of sheets of white card stock you will need. (I guessed 1 ream)
4. On the smaller envelope, the 9×12 address it to yourself.  This is the envelope her friend will return the sheets to you in.  I went to the post office and stuffed the envelope with four sheets of card stock plus some pictures and asked them to estimate the cost of shipping.  I then bought enough stamps for each of the return envelopes.  I addressed and stamped the return envelopes.  I think this is to ensure the best results for return.  This makes it easy for her friends to get it back to you in a timely manner.
5. Next I addressed all the outer envelopes.  One to each of her friends.
6. I put an X on the back of each piece of card stock so her friends are sure to only use one side. (Not front and back.  In the end this will make the book look better.)
7. I wrote a letter to her friends explaining what this package was all about.  Here is my letter:

Hello friends of Kristina and her Family!

My name is Jen and I am a good friend of Kristina.  As you know they will soon be moving to NYC/NJ.  I wanted to put together a going away present for them from all of their friends.  That’s where you come in!  I am hoping to put together a book for them with pictures, memories, best wishes from their friends here in Colorado.  I also wanted to include their children’s friends too.  You are getting this letter because you are a friend of the their family.  Here is what I would LOVE from you.  I have included 4 8.5×11 pieces of white cardstock. I added a few extra just in case.

Would you please:

  1. Put a picture of your family on a page and then add a note, a quote, a letter, decorations, whatever suits you.  Please, Please include a picture of your family!
  2. If you have a child who is friends with any of their kids you can use another page for them if you like.  You can let your child decorate that one.  If you happen to have any pictures of your kids with their kids that would be really special for the kids as they look through the book when they have moved.
  3. Please only use one side of the paper (not front and back, just the front).  You can use just one sheet of paper or more if you would like.  Please use it in portrait position, not landscape.
  4. Pictures of you with any of their family would be great too.
  5. I would like to have the book together by June 15th.   It may take me a few days to get it put together so could you try to post mark it by June 8th? But better late than never.  The sooner the better for me of course to get it all together!
  6. I have included an envelope addressed and stamped for you to return it in.
  7. I was trying to keep it a secret! So SHHHHH! I think it will be a fun surprise.  Kristina gave me her addresses so she knows I am asking all of you to do something but she doesn’t know the details.  (I told her it wasn’t a party).  We may have a party, but I am just planning one thing at a time!

Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!! We can only do this together; I know it will be a sweet memory for them.

Please feel free to call or email me if you have any questions!


8. I stuffed the 10×13 addressed and stamped envelope with: 1 stamped and addressed 9×12 return envelope, 4 sheets of white card stock with x’s on the back and, a letter explaining the project.
9.  I bought letters and flowers and hot glued them on the 3 ring photo album.  I put the word ‘Friends’ across the top.  I inserted a picture of them in the album center.
10. I inserted 8.5×11 page protectors into the album and waited to fill them with memories from her friends.
11.  We gave it to her at her going away party.  It was a present from all her friends.  She said, “This may be one of the best gifts I have received, EVER!”

Here is an example of what their friends sent back.  Each friend sent something a little different.  A few of her kids friends colored pictures or wrote memories too.  It is a wonderful keepsake for them.  Scott’s Grandma’s was wonderful to. In hers many of her friends wrote beautiful letters, decorated the pages with things they love to do together like play Bridge, and she had pictures and notes from all her Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren, as well as life long friends.



Celebrate : Party at a Park

Written By Jen

We threw a great bash for Kristina and her family to wish them a hearty farewell a few weeks ago. I decided to rent a local park shelter for the occasion.  It turned out to be a huge hit and we received many compliments. I put together a basic checklist of things that made the party a success.  I will reference this list next time I throw a party at a park and I hope it will help you too!

Choose a time and day for your party. Ask the person it is honoring what is good for them. If they have young children be sure to choose a time around their nap schedules.

Choosing a park. There are some important features to consider when choosing a park.
City. I knew I would be furnishing many items for the party so I choose a park in the city I lived in. My city was within 40 minutes for most of the guests. This choice helped me to make sure the party was a success. A stressed out host is palpable at a party. Make it easy on yourself. You will also most likely save money if you rent a shelter in the city in which you reside.
Restrooms. Choose a park with restrooms. It’s a relief for everyone. Your guests will be able to stay longer and enjoy themselves.
Shelter. It is nice to have a shelter with some tables.
Shade. Parks with nice old trees that provide shade are well worth it. The weather is unpredictable and this builds some natural relief into your plan.
Playground. This will provide entertainment for the children.
Grass field. Fields are a nice place to play and allow people to stretch out their legs.
Privacy. Notice if there are baseball fields or other sports fields that may cause the area you are renting to be crowded at the time of the party.  When you obtain your permit ask the parks and recreation person about parks and shelters they recommend and why. Also be sure to ask them about other happenings at the park that day.
Why a park? This allowed me to be slightly removed from worry. I was not worried about enough space and messes. It takes some of the responsibility off of the host and it makes everyone more responsible for themselves. Our house could have held that many people, but it would have been tight and I would have been more stressed. I didn’t have to clean my house before or after. It helped me to focus on Kristina not on other worries. This gave everyone the space to relax.
Obtain your permit and bring it with you to the party.

Send out an evite. I decided a general menu in my mind. I brought the main dish and asked others to bring sides. I asked them to RSVP with what they will bring so others had a better idea on how to help. I had a list of ideas for people to work off of. Here it is to give you an idea.
I brought New York City Fare.
Coney Dogs (I cooked them in a crock-pot and brought the crock-pot to serve them in. They stayed warm the whole time.)
NY Subs (I ordered them from Subway and had them keep the veggies on a side platter. This kept the subs for getting soggy and then everyone could add their own fixings.   I requested a variety of breads and cheeses. I avoided american and pepper jack cheese. American melts too fast and pepper jack was not a good choice for me with so many children at the party.)
Brooklyn Style Pizza. I ordered pizza to the park as well.

I asked everyone to bring something to share and I suggested:
A cooler of water bottles
A cooler of kids drinks
A cooler of soda
A cooler of beer (if you do this be sure your permit for the park covers alcohol)

Cole Slaw
Potato Salad
Green Salad
Frog Eye Salad
Fruit Salad

Chips and Dip

Cup Cakes

Be sure your guests know the date, time, location and the general theme and happenings of the party.

I also asked the guests to bring:
Picnic blankets and Camping Chairs.
I reminded them of this a few days before the party. This was a HUGE part of the success of the party. There was not going to be enough places for every one to sit. This allowed for everyone to stretch out. We were not all crammed around the shelter. Even if there are enough seats I recommend this. It was a GREAT addition to the party.

Extra items to bring to the party.

Table Clothes. I just bought disposable plastic table clothes. Sometimes those tables are sticky and nasty. I also suggest tape or clips to hold them down and help the kids not pull on them. The table clothes took us 30 minutes to set up, but it was well worth it! It also looked nice and clean and inviting.

Mason Jars with Water and Flowers. I bought a few boxes of large mason jars and a few flower arrangements at Costco and I arranged them at my house before the party. I cut the flowers short to fit in the jars. I filled them with water and arranged them the morning of the party. This took a good hour. I placed the jars back in the box once they were arranged and ready.  This is not necessary, but pretty. Atmosphere and aesthetics are important to me.

Plates, Napkins, Silverware. I just took the top off of the box of silverware and used that as a way to set it out. It worked fine. Consider this when purchasing your plastic ware.

Wet Wipes. This is a little thing that is awesome to have.

Bug Spray. Bring a bottle to share for everyone. It’s worth it just in case.

Sun Screen. Bring a bottle of 50 to share. You don’t want your guests to be uncomfortable or burned.

The Park permit.

Directions to the park. I emailed them to the guests the day of as well. I know with GPS’s on every phone it’s not necessary, but sometimes old-fashioned directions and hints are helpful. Leave your cell phone number too just in case anyone gets lost.

Entertainment. We hired an awesome children’s singer and entertainer for the party, Jeff Kagan. The kids loved it. This is not necessary, but it was nice. Another idea would be a band. Or keep it simple. If there is a field suggest people bring baseballs and gloves, or frisbees or a volleyball or any ideas you have that suit your guests, your park and your theme. I had my son bring his glove and baseball and a few other kids did too and they all had a blast.

I asked a girl friend to come early and help me set up. This was a great help. We put the table cloths on, the flowers, set out the bug spray and sun block. We designated a place for the drinks on an out-of-the-way space in the shelter. We designated four tables for food; one for subs, hot dogs and fixings, one for pizza, one for desserts and, one for sides and salads. Even though this took up 4 of our 8 tables it made it easy to get to the food. We also set out our blankets and chairs ahead to suggest areas for people to do the same.

I am by no means the party master. This is just one party plan, it maybe just a springboard, a place to start in helping you think of things for your party. It will also help me remember what worked at the last party I threw at a park.  Celebrate Life!


Celebrate : Ice Cream Parlour Birthday Party


Hannah (my oldest) just celebrated her 13th birthday!  Yikes!  It was so much fun…we had about 20 adorable girls here for a big bash. 
The theme….Ice Cream Parlour.  Thanks to my dear friend Marsha Kay, (who I have realized is amazingly creative and resourceful!!) I borrowed this idea that she used at a birthday party for her 6 year old.  It’s great for all ages!  She found the theme, look, and templates on a great blog called:

One of Hannah’s friends showing off the table!

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