Color Mixer | a cozy autumn color palette

My very favorite time of the year is the few weeks in mid-September that I affectionately call “almost autumn.” Here in Cleveland, the air has just a hint of crispness in it, making it the perfect weather for a sweatshirt, a light scarf and a warm cup of coffee.

Now, I know the way this time of the year makes me feel, but, as it turns out, it’s really difficult to put that feeling into imagery.

Luckily, after a lot of browsing (and, let’s be honest, a few cups of coffee), I came across a delicious recipe for Spiced Chai Tea over at A Beautiful Mess. This gorgeous photo pulled at my warm-beverage-loving heart strings, and I knew it had the perfect tones to inspire a cozy autumn color palette.

A warm & cozy fall color palette #fall #autumn #color

Photo courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

Happy Almost Autumn!

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Looking for more inspiration? Take a look at all our color palettes, or browse our other posts for more on all things fall.

Friday Finds | Birthday Ideas

Growing up, my mom always made the biggest deal out of our birthdays. Every year, I knew that when I woke up in the morning and went downstairs, there would be an explosion of birthday decorations covering our house. It made me feel so incredibly special, and now that I’m a mom, I can’t help but want to do the same for my family.

My husband’s birthday is coming up next month, so I’m already on the hunt for creative birthday ideas to make the day extra special for him. I’ve had my eye on the balloon avalanche idea for a while, and I’m going to try to mix in one or two of the ideas below as well!

Fun & creative birthday ideas! #birthday #pancakes     Fun & creative birthday ideas! #birthday #giftideas

Fun & creative birthday ideas - love this money balloon! #birthday #giftideas     Fun & creative birthday ideas! #birthday #balloonideas

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Surprise! A 40th birthday full of pink and gold

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

Last week, our resident party planner, Elizabeth, shared her 5 must-have items for easy party planning. This week, she’s back to show us how she put those helpful tips to use for her sister’s surprise 40th birthday party!

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With my big sis turning 40 this year, I knew we just had to celebrate this milestone with an unforgettable celebration.

So I met with her hubs and best friend to begin scheming… I mean planning her surprise 40th birthday party.

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

As you can tell from the shocked look on her face, we GOT HER!

Once the initial shock of the surprise began to wear off, she was taken aback by how many little details were included in the celebration that were a direct reflection of her.

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

For starters, we incorporated her favorite colors—hot pink and gold—into just about everything we did.

Since she LOVES pink gerbera daisies, and is never caught without a flower in her hair, we incorporated florals into the invite, the decor, and even had guests add one to their own hair upon arriving.

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

The celebration took place at her best friend’s beautiful lakehouse, with the backdrop of Lake Erie and a golden summer sunset.

Guests mingled on one of three available patios, and a mini-bar was set up on the rooftop patio, complete with lounge seating, twinkle lights, and paper lanterns.

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

I’m pretty sure everyone’s favorite part of the celebration were the tapas served by the amazing Marigold Catering, and the bar stocked with all the ingredients for Moscow Mules—the guest of honor’s favorite cocktail.

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

Last, but definitely not least, everyone gathered to watch the sunset, and then we lit and launched 25 paper Chinese lanterns (we intended to launch all 40, but ran out of steam). It was great seeing guests make wishes as they sent their lantern free.

Surprise! An unforgettable night filled with pink and gold. #birthday #40thbirthday #surpriseparty #party

But, the night wasn’t complete until my sisters and I hopped into the photo booth to make one last memory!

I still can’t believe that we were able to pull off the surprise without any suspicion. And all that glitter that’s STILL turning up in my house was worth it.

I know she would argue—as sisters do—but I’m sure I had more fun planning this celebration than she did attending!

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All photos courtesy of Elizabeth Draeger and Tess Smith Photography

5 must-haves for easy party planning

This week, we’re happy to welcome back Elizabeth, our resident party planner, who’s here to share her 5 must-have items for party planning.

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I host a lot of parties. Whether it’s a family member’s birthday party, a friend’s baby shower, or an end-of-the-summer happy hour, there always seems to be a reason to celebrate.

And recently, I realized that there are a few staple items that I’ve used at almost every party. I call them my “party planning must-haves.” They’re those items that I’ve invested in over the years, and that I repeatedly use to create quick and easy focal points that set the tone and style of a party. (And since I’m constantly reusing them, they’ve also saved me a bunch of money over time!)

Here are the top 5 items I recommend keeping on-hand to help with quick & easy party planning:

1. Place card holders

Wire place card holders are great staple items that you can use over & over again! #party #placecards

Photos courtesy of Tess Smith Photography

You know, the ones used to hold cute food and drink tags! I picked up twelve of these little guys on clearance, years ago, and have used them at just about every party I’ve hosted since.

Neutral-colored holders are best because they’ll match a variety of party themes. You can use them with colored paper, tags, ribbon, and anything else your creativity conjures up to add little bursts of color throughout your tablescape. They even make holders without a base, so you can stick them in pretty much anything that goes with your theme. Talk about a “neutral” set! ;)

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2. Glass drink dispensers

Glass drink dispensers are great staple items that you can use over & over again! #party #drinks

Not only can these add a huge splash of color, but serving beverages from a dispenser, instead of purchasing individual drinks, can also save you some money… which you can then spend on things like cute-colored straws, of course! When shopping for the perfect dispenser, I recommend finding one that has a pedestal, so cups can easily fit under the spout without having to use a stand.

Read More »

Hello, September 2014 | a free desktop calendar download

Celebrate September with this free desktop and phone wallpaper! #desktopwallpaper #desktopdownload #september #calendar #desktop

We love helping you creatively celebrate each season, so we’re kicking off our Desktop Beautification Project!

At the beginning of each month, starting today, we’ll share a new, free desktop wallpaper for you to download. We’ve got a calendar version for your desktop, and a non-calendar version for your phone.

This first one was created by Mike’s super-talented wife and artist, Melanie (who will be creating the next few months’ worth, too).

Enjoy!

Celebrate September with this free desktop and phone wallpaper! #desktopwallpaper #desktopdownload #september #calendar #desktop

September 2014 Calendar

2560 x 1440 // 1680 x 1050// 1440 x 900 // 1280 x 800 // phone

For help on how to install, click here.

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Share the love – how to turn your vacation pictures into a sendable keepsake

Earlier this summer, we took a trip to the Outer Banks for our first family vacation since before Carter was born—and, as anyone who has ever taken a 12-hour road trip with a 2-year-old knows, this is a serious feat of endurance for which they really should give out awards :)

In classic Jessica-style, the week included a lot of picture-taking… followed up by a lot of doing nada with my photos when we returned.

…until last week, when I came across an article that inspired me to do something with them! Jessica Shyba, who you may know from her adorable #theoandbeau pictures on Instagram, recently went on a babymoon with her husband, and she wrote about making a card using her vacation pictures.

Share the love - how to turn your vacation pictures into a sendable keepsake

Jessica and her husband used their card to say ‘miss you’ to their 3 kids who stayed home while they were away; but since our vacation was with our extended family, I wanted to use our card to look back on the trip and let them know we’re thinking of them.

I chose my favorite photo collage card, dropped in a bunch of snapshots from the trip, and wrote a little message:

Share the love - how to turn your vacation pictures into a sendable keepsake Read More »

5 customizable party craft ideas for kids, perfect for their next birthday!

When I was a kid, I liked playing games at birthday parties, but I always thought it was way more special when I got to make a craft that I could bring home with me. To help spread some of that birthday party magic, I’ve put together some of my favorite craft ideas for kids. They’re easy, kid-friendly, and only require a little help from adults—perfect for birthday parties, and kids of all ages!

On top of that, they can all be customized to your party’s theme—so, whether you’re diving under the sea with an underwater themed party, or soaring above the clouds with a super hero theme, you’re sure to find something that works!

1. Tote Bag Crafts

First up on my list (and my absolute favorite)—tote bags that kids can decorate and continue to use even after they’re home!

Kids can add anything from hand prints to drawings of their favorite things, and if they’re old enough to use them, you could even put out stencils that match your theme. (This DIY is specific to Mother’s Day, but you could customize it to any party.) Read More »

Friday Finds: Labor Day Recipes

Labor Day is almost here, and whatever your plan is for celebrating the holiday, I bet it involves some delicious end-of-summer food!

If so, we have something in common :) My husband and I are having a small get-together at our house next weekend, so I’m in recipe-gathering mode today. I’ve found a lot of great Labor Day recipes, as well as a few that were created for 4th of July and Memorial Day, but are perfect for a Labor Day party.

Here are some of the dishes we’re most excited about making (and eating!) next weekend:

Delicious Labor Day recipes to mark the end of summer! #laborday #recipes     Delicious Labor Day recipes to mark the end of summer! #laborday #recipes

Delicious Labor Day recipes to mark the end of summer! #laborday #recipes     Delicious Labor Day recipes to mark the end of summer! #laborday #recipes

Delicious Labor Day recipes to mark the end of summer! #laborday #recipes     Delicious Labor Day recipes to mark the end of summer! #laborday #recipes

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Happy Labor Day!

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You can’t mail a hug—but you CAN mail a homemade card from your iPad!

It seems like every week, someone around here is bringing in an adorable card that one of their even more adorable kids made on the Creatacard app. Since our team actually designs the card templates, it’s so much fun for us to see which ones they choose—not to mention how much we love to see all the creative artwork that comes out of these little artists!

I wrote a post last spring about Carter’s experience making his grandma a Mother’s Day card, and I’ve found that each time we make a new card together, I get a ton of insight about what makes the best cards.

Since the app is still new, we’re still learning what works and what doesn’t—but we’re especially excited about the new Grandparents Day cards that just launched! Here are a few of my favorites:

Cute Grandparents Day cards from kids - made from the iPad! #creatacard #grandparentsday #cards

And if your kiddos want to get even more creative, they can skip the card templates altogether and create their own card from scratch in the “make a card” section of the app.

I LOVE the adorable card Jessica Shyba’s kids made for their Grandpa’s birthday in the “make a card” section!

Jessica Shyba's kids (#theoandbeau) making their Grandpa a customized card using the Creatacard app! #creatacard #theoandbeau #cards

Photos by Jessica Shyba

If you want to get in on the card-making fun, you can download the Creatacard app for free in the iTunes App Store. (And, don’t forget that Grandparents Day is September 7!)

For more inspiration, check out all our Grandparents Day posts!

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Friday Finds | Grandparents Day crafts

Grandparents Day is coming up on September 7, and I’ve been on the lookout for a fun and meaningful craft to do with Carter. Last year, we came up with this watercolor art craft, which we framed and gave to Grammy & Pops along with a personalized Grandparents Day card.

I’m looking for something equally creative this year, and luckily there’s no shortage of awesome, personalized DIY crafts out there! Here are a few of my favorites :)

Cute & fun Grandparents Day crafts for kids! #grandparentsday #crafts     Cute & fun Grandparents Day crafts for kids! #grandparentsday #crafts

Cute & fun Grandparents Day crafts for kids! #grandparentsday #crafts     Cute & fun Grandparents Day crafts for kids! #grandparentsday #crafts

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