April 21, 2015

Mario Kart Birthday Tournament

Looking for a fun birthday party theme with a little nostalgia mixed in? While the boys are totally obsessed with video games, there is only one that truly captures my attention: Mario.  It's a classic. And with Mario Kart, four kids can play at a time so we set up a little Mario Kart tournament (complete with a prize for the ultimate racer!) and threw together some fun mario themed treats. Let's be real: the party planning is really for me.  I love love love a good theme. 

Feel free to pin some ideas and click around for resources!

Tips & Inspiration: I found these cupcake liners at Hobby Lobby and instantly saw them as Mario Piranha Plants. Also, this was about as easy as it gets. I used box cake and followed this recipe for my favorite icing! I always use an icing tip to ice my cupcakes to make them look a little more professional. I topped them with Mario Figurines which I found HERE and they easily doubled as a party favor for the kids to take home! They were a great price and great quality. During cleanup I kept finding cupcakes with little icing holes in the center where the kids had been more excited about the toys than the cake itself (hah!)

Tips & Inspiration: Admittedly, these look much better from afar than they do up close. BUT, they were the most popular sweet treat of the party. Follow your regular rice krispie instructions and spread them out about 3/4 inch thick.  Once they are completely cooled, cut them into shapes with star and mustache shaped cookie cutters. Use cake pop sticks and foam planting blocks from Hobby Lobby for presentation. With the cake pop sticks inside the rice krispie treats, dip the treats into yellow and brown melting candies from the hobby store. Lay flat on parchment paper and pipe the star eyes with some left over chocolate (Pro Tip: use a small ziplock bag and snipped the corner a bit to make your own piping bag!)

Tips & Inspiration: The party favors were my personal favorite! I found the template HERE and printed them on index thick cardstock.  Cut, fold, and tape (I taped on the outside because I knew I was going to fill the boxes with candy and they'd be ripped open anyways!)  Leave one end open or easy to open so you can put candy/toys inside the boxes and so the kids can get the goodies out and keep the box in tact if they want to.

Plates and napkins from Amazon
Table cloth and banners from Hobby Lobby

And a few photos from the party because as much as I love the decor, I love the company even more ;)

March 23, 2015

McAllen Birth Photography || AJ Morales

I've now photographed two births and can say without hesitation that birth photography is by far my favorite.  I love the fast pace and the emotion, the struggle and then the incredible joy.  I've never been the most comfortable with posing a shot or directing even, but with birth photography, there is definitely no time (or desire) for giving direction. I want to say a huge thank you to Lisa and Paul for inviting me into this incredible moment with you and congratulations on your beautiful baby boy! You are a rock star.

February 06, 2015

Intentional Friendship

At thirty-one years old I am actively learning what it means to be an intentional friend. Throughout my life I've stumbled into some very sweet friendships, a rare few that have lasted through many years, multiple states and even more life changes. I'm being made increasingly aware of what a gift that is.

Recently, two other ladies and I began meeting once a week in our homes or the local coffee shop with the intention of becoming friends. Does that sound odd? 

This week we talked about what real friendship is and here are a couple of things I took away from our meeting:

Before meeting, we individually listened to a sermon on friendship which defined true friendship as this:

Choose your people with intentionality. Proverbs 13 reminds us that "Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm."

This type of friendship happens on purpose. As the three of us sat around a small table and the Starbucks workers bustled around, preparing to close for the night, we discussed our likes and dislikes. We talked about what we would want a friend to know about us and ways in which we feel loved. And then we wrote it all down. And you know what? It wasn't odd. It was refreshing, actually, to be able to start out a friendship by saying, "I'd like to really know you." and put feet to that. 

Here are some suggestions to get the conversation going:
  • You should know about me...
  • I feel loved when...
  • I like (anything from your favorite ice cream to your favorite saturday activity)
  • I don't like (pet peeves to your least favorite color)
Some of these might seem silly but I can't tell you the wealth of knowledge I gained from these details.

I mean, yes, a lot of the time it does; but also, a real friend is the one who will tell you that you have something in your teeth or that your sin is showing. Yes, sin. That wasn't a typo.  What I mean is that a real friend will tell you the truth, even if it hurts. They won't pacify you or be afraid of conflict. A real (godly) friend will speak truth over you, or, if they don't know the answer or what to say, they will pray for God's wisdom instead of feeding you helpless cliches. 

The friend kissing you may be the Judas. The friend who wounds you with well thought words from the heart is the one who loves you.

I'll leave you with a few of the questions we answered ourselves:

1. Based on these points, how is Jesus a real friend to you? (Keep in mind that Jesus is not our peer, but still calls us friend.)
2. How can I be a better friend? And to whom?
3. Who is a good friend to you? Why/How?
4. What is changing my understanding of friendship?

Have you ever thought about these things? What does friendship mean to you? What does it look like for you? I'd love to hear your input in the comments.

January 16, 2015

How to Throw a (last minute) Hobbit Party!

I've always heard that having a birthday around Christmas was less than desirable because people tend to lump your gifts in or maybe forget altogether.  Well, this was our first time to have a family member, in house, with a holiday birthday. One of our boys was lucky enough to be born on the 1st day of the year, which also fell during Christmas break. The boys go back to Mexico on school holidays and so we didn't get to celebrate with him on his actual birthday. I didn't want him to feel left out, especially when Peewees birthday rolls around (a few days before Valentines day - what's with the holiday births?) so I threw together a super last minute Hobbit themed birthday dinner for us to celebrate together. By last minute, I mean 24 hours in advance. All of my best ideas come when it's almost too late ;)

I'm fairly certain I made a mistake with the "Lembus Bread Tamales" reference. Apparently that's actually from The Lord of the Rings. Oops! The tamales worked though because, from what I hear, Lembus bread is wrapped in a leaf (check!) and one bite will fill you up (check!) I partnered that with some "Dragon's Gold Cupcakes" on top of a cake-plate-mountain, threw in a forest with some left over Christmas trees and a few forest animals, and scatter some chocolate gold coins along the "journey." I set out some rootbeers (it felt like something dwarves would enjoy) and done. One Hobbit themed dinner is served.

For the cupcakes, I used my most FAVORITE chocolate cupcake recipe on the planet (click here, now!) and sprinkled the icing with some edible gold glitter, gold sprinkles and added little gold bands from the wedding section at my local Hobby store. Unfortunately, I forgot about the candles and the only ones I had in the house were pink! Sorry Crisitan! (good think teenage boys think pink is cool)

Happy Birthday Cristian! 
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