be merry and bright

The holidays are in full swing around here, and hopefully you are finding time to enjoy time with your loved ones too, amid the chaos and busy times that come with it.  Since my last post, I have been relishing in the little moments that make me so grateful and love every minute of motherhood, despite how difficult it can be at times.  Here a few highlights I wanted to share with you…

We sent out nearly one hundred Christmas cards this year, at the eleventh hour…which I had to design and print at home just to get them out on time!  Needless to say, there are still a few we didn’t manage to get out and I felt a little bad about this, so I wanted to share the card online so EVERYONE can see it…

Duartes-Christmas-Card-2014

We celebrated our girls’ fifth birthday just four days before Christmas, which also makes for a very busy week!  The girls were so happy to be in the company of lots of new friends, and all the kids were over the moon with excitement when they broke the piñata and experienced an awesome sugar rush!

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The last highlight I’d like to share — but definitely not the least important, by far — is what seems like the closest we’ll get to a family Christmas photo for this year.  It was a bit of an impromptu moment actually…we finally arranged a date night and we asked the babysitter to snap a quick photo of us before we went out, but of course, all the kids wanted in!  I love this photo because it captures the raw truth of our everyday life — girls excited to see us leave, and Lucas sad to see us go — it was a bittersweet goodbye, but a much-deserved mini break from parenting, even if ever so brief.

IMG_4019Well, I leave you with a heartfelt thank you and appreciation for keeping up with me and my little family.  Life keeps us all busy but it’s so nice to be able to share these sweetest moments in the hopes that it will brighten your day, and give you a moment to reflect on the little joys in your own life.

Wishing you all a happy new year and all the best for 2015!

Until next time…stay sweet!

xoxo

Haydee 

ps  Those of you who read my last post will appreciate this comment…the Advent cards I made last year finally turned up, just days after I created new ones for this year!!

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First Birthday Party {Easter Brunch}

Life moves fast…my little boy turned one not so long ago.  I posted photos on facebook, for friends and family, but barely had the time to share the birthday party on my blog.  There were so many cute details we prepared ourselves; I’m quite proud of how it all turned out, and the timing was perfect.  He turned one on Easter Sunday, so we hosted a Brunch to celebrate both occasions.

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the birthday boy, brought to you by the number one!

The projects included the following…all of which the hubby and I tackled on our own, and somewhat succeeded!

DIY Numero Uno

The yarn-wrapped number one shown above was a joint effort by my husband and I.  My husband carved it out of spare carton boxes, hot glued them to stay together, then I painstakingly wrapped it in an ombre yarn in blue, to give it this nice textured effect.  The yarn-wrapping took several days to complete, as some of the areas had to be done on smaller scraps of carton, then glued back onto the number one, since it was so tricky to really wrap yarn around the entire number.

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Hot Glue Gun and 3 – 4 Glue Sticks (for building number), One Ball of Yarn, One Elmer Glue Stick (for patching up scraps of yarn-wrapped carton) Cost:  $5 – $10 (depending on which craft tools you already have); time spent – 4 days

Easter Brunch Birthday Party Decor

Easter Brunch Birthday Party Decor

Twelve Month Photo Banner

This was such a cute project, and I hung it up in his nursery after the party, where it remains today.  This was an effort, because every month I tried to remember to take the similar picture of him in his crib, inspired by the newborn photo our photographer took of him when he was less than two weeks old.  I bought card stock in blue and yellow, to match the theme of the party, and mounted each photo onto card stock, alternating the colors, then punched out mini banners to use as labels for each month.  The tricky part was adhering them to the ribbon with double-sided tape, evenly spaced, and also it was a two-person job (three, if you count my husband guiding us to how it looked) to get it up on the wall.  It’s a good idea to press firmly on the sticky tape behind each photo to the wall so it doesn’t rely only on the tape at the ends, because trust me, it will start to fall off easily and quickly…

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Card Stock, Double Sided Tape, Craft Punch (or your imagination to make label badges), ribbon Cost:  $5 – $10 (depending on which craft tools you already have); time spent – 2 hours

*Note: I used the same craft punch and ribbon to make the mini banners for the cake.

Custom Printables by {howsweetlifeis}

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Birthday Boy Stats - Custom Printable by {howsweetlifeis}

Birthday Boy Stats – Custom Printable by {howsweetlifeis}

Custom Printable Set

This took me awhile to figure out.  I didn’t quite know what to create, that could be fitting for both Easter and a first birthday party for a little boy.  After many hours spent on pinterest and party blogs, I settled on keeping it simple and fresh, but adding a bit of fun to the theme with this cute little bunny image I found as a free clip art file on the web.  I added a fancy script font for the titles, and a nice seersucker blue diagonal pinstripe as the background for my custom printable collection.  It took a lot of patience to center things just right, and to make the little tent holders in the back, but I felt it was all worth it and was a nice finishing touch for the party.

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Creativity, Double Sided Tape and Stiff Paper or Card Stock to use as tent holders in the back Cost:  less than $5; time spent – 4 hours {I could have created invitations too, but used this cheeky bunny e-card from Paperless Post instead}

Brunch Drink Station

Brunch Drink Station

Brunch Drink Station

This one was easy, and a nice treat for the adults.  I mean, how can you have brunch, without a Mimosa or Bloody Mary?  The key was presentation.  We emptied out the juices into pitchers and served up fresh fruit and condiments to garnish the drinks in small plates.  Everything looked nice and neat, when set on a tray.  We set out the glasses too, for a self-serve bar.  Everyone loved this!!

Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Sparkling Wine, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice, Fresh Berries, Vodka, V8, Olives, Lemon, Serving Glasses, Tray and dishes Cost:  $15 – $20 (depending on the quality of what you buy); time spent – 30 minutes

{sweets and decor}

{sweets and decor}

Sweets and Decor
I baked cupcakes and topped them with shredded coconut and saved the Easter eggs we dyed as crafts, for decor.  I nested jelly beans and robin egg chocolates in shredded coconut baskets as another touch of decor and sweet treat.  I bought striped and polka dot (or coconut! as my girls would say) straws and baking cups from the Tomkat Studio.
Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Cupcakes (make or buy),  shredded coconut for garnish, easter candy and dyed eggs; paper items for decor (baking cups and straws), plastic bottles or mason jars Cost:  $15 – $20; time spent – 1 – 2 hours (depends on amount of baking)
{Homemade Birthday Cake}

{Homemade Birthday Cake}

Birthday Cake
Yeah, I made the cake too.  I made a quick recipe, just for show, because I wanted a cute cake for my baby boy to smash and get all nice and dirty in.  Well, he was pretty much terrified of the cake after we helped him blow out the candle, so that didn’t venture out too well.  Unplanned, we ended up serving it to everyone, and it was a big hit.  Well, it was all organic and from scratch, so that was a plus.  It was made sweeter by the coconut garnish and the mini banner made with scrap card stock.
Project Summary:  Tools Needed:  Cake (make or buy),  shredded coconut for garnish, card stock, ribbon and straws for mini banner Cost:  $5 – $10; time spent – 1 – 2 hours (depends on amount of baking)

 

{Happy Birthday to You!}

{Happy Birthday to You!}

All in all, it was a fun party and all the work put into planning and decorating was well worth it.  I’m happy the birthday boy enjoyed all the decor and fuss as much as I did, and not to mention the girls’ joy in helping him celebrate too!

{birthday boy, not wanting to get a little cake on him..}

{birthday boy, not wanting to get a little cake on him..}

I leave you with a photo of my squirming baby boy, squirmy and all, as a reaction to when we tried to get his little hands on his cake…

I hope you enjoyed this post, and that it was fun as well as informative.  Thank you all for following my blog.

{Have the sweetest day}

xoxo

Haydee

 

{last minute gift guide} for the little ones in your life…

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Only twelve days left until Christmas eve.  I am finally done with all my shopping, and am ready to start wrapping gifts.  Now that I’m done with my list, I wanted to share a few gift guides with you to help you finish your shopping too.  Here’s a short list of items you may want to buy for the little ones in your life who bring you so much joy.

Many of these items were hand-picked (i.e. pointed out and/or admired) by my own sweet peas during one or more of our [all too frequent] trips to Target.  I think it’s adorable that whenever my girls spot Hello Kitty [or ‘Kitty Kat’ as they call her] or something sparkly, it always catches their attention!

You can find all of these items at Target and/or Amazon, as noted below:

V-Tech Kiss & Care Cows $10; Mr and Mrs Potato Head $14; Fisher Price Camera $32; Baby Thumper $10; Corduroy Toms Shoes for Boys $34; Hello Kitty Paint with Water $6; Cherokee Sequined Skirt (Target) $15; Pink Hello Kitty Mary Janes (Target) $20; Pink Radio Flyer $60; Hello Kitty Karaoke CD Player $39 (Target)

{Happy Shopping!}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

{peachy meets beachy} our family photo shoot

A sunset family photo session at the beach?  Why, yes please.  Now… what would we wear?  Well, it shouldn’t be so formal that we can’t run around in the sand and get a little dirty.  It should be fun and reflect our personality as individuals and as one sweet family.

After trying on several different looks, I was ultra pleased that one of my favorite bright dresses finally fit again!  Victor suggested wearing his seersucker pants since they are so beachy and comfortable.  Once we figured out our outfits, I was on the hunt for the kids’ outfits.

I carried the coral and turquoise theme through, and was so happy to find Lucas such a cute onesie that matched both Victor’s and my outfits!  The girls were very happy to add one more tutu to their collection, and I’m happy I found the perfect girly and sparkly tees to match.  I found everything I needed at Target!

I also made small organza flowers for sequined headbands I also made, to add the final touch to their look.  I used sequined elastic ribbon in silver and gold for the actual headbands, and wide organza ribbon in matching silver and gold to make small flowers, following this easy tutorial via ‘go make me’ — bejewelled flowered headband/diy project’ blog post.

Inspiration:

 

Sneak Peek:

We had a wonderful time at the beach, and are very happy with the Sneak Peek of our photo session.  Alison is such a talented photographer and so great with the girls and the baby.  She has so much patience and such an eye for beauty.  Please visit her blog for the full sneak peek, and if you’re in the South Florida area, I highly recommend her for your own family photo session or special event.  You can see visit her full professional website here.

{enjoy the sweetest moments}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

{Celebrity Nursery Design}

I created this chic nursery design, based on powder pink and rock star platinum, as a small tribute to the announcement of Shakira’s pregnancy today.  I was *tickled pink* with the news and genuinely inspired to create an ultra feminine look for what I’m sure will be one very spoiled, and deeply loved, baby.

 

I’m secretly wishing for a baby girl, too. Can you tell?  Congratulations to Shakira and wishing her a very happy and healthy pregnancy as she prepares for the next big chapter of her life.  {Shakira, if you’re reading this and you are interested in my services, now you know where to find me.}  ;-D

Shopping Guide:  Furniture and Chandelier from Restoration HardwareLamps, Rug and Vanity Set from Z GalleriePillow Shams from Petit TresorArt Prints from Etsy – Breeding Fancy, Niko and Lily, My Sweet Swirls – and Society6Diamond Bear Pendant from Tous

{Sweet dreams}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

Making room for baby…

Sunshine Inspired Nursery
{by Haute Decor Designs}

I’ve been spending the last few weeks nesting and getting our home ready for our little one, who will arrive any day now.  We are super excited, despite not knowing the gender!  I wanted to create a soothing space for the baby, with subtle pops of bright color, so we settled on a soft gray wall color with pops of yellow for the room.  I stumbled upon these cute art prints on Etsy some time ago, which led me to think of Sunshine as inspiration for the room.

We’ve been spending a lot of time putting together furniture and getting shelves up in the room, and it’s almost ready for the baby.  I’m looking forward to sharing photos of the finished room soon, but for now I hope you enjoy this inspiration board which is somewhat of a sneak peek.

{Happy Decorating!}

xo

~

the sweetest mami~

natural vs. organic…what’s best for our little ones?

Lately, I’ve become consumed with all the debate and news surrounding the quality of products we use at home, on ourselves and our children, even around the house.  I’ve become intrigued with all the scandalous articles and accusations, including claims that even our good old Johnson & Johnson products are tainted with toxic ingredients!

As a parent, my number one priority is my children — their safety, to be even more specific.  I take extreme measures to make sure their surroundings are safe, by adapting our environment to their needs.  I’m careful to make sure their play area is safe, their food is organic and hormone-free, their bedroom is free of dangerous objects, our home is the right temperature, and that all chemicals and cleaning products are out of their reach.  But now, one more thing I have to watch out for??  The ingredients in their lotions may be dangerous?  The tear-free shampoo may cause cancer?  Well, I take it all with a grain of salt.  I have done my share of reading, and do agree that many ingredients in the products we use should be banned, or at minimum controlled.  It’s unnerving to know that the FDA bears no role in reviewing and, much less – approving, the products we used on our most precious little ones.

Then to add one more level of complexity to the issue, I learned one more fact recently.  Did you know that products that are labelled ‘natural’ are not the same as ‘organic’ ones?  I can’t get into the details of the differences now, but suffice it to say that to be called natural, the requirements are far less stringent than those for organic products.  Natural products include those that may have one or two natural items in them (i.e. natural oils, essence, etc), whereby organic products usually ONLY have natural products*.  So, a ‘natural’ item may still have some of those nasty ingredients we’re trying to stay away from.

I don’t want to write much more, as I’m still learning a lot on the topic, and can’t say I know a lot of the details yet.  I just wanted to post this to see if I generated some discussions from other parents, and learned more about what’s best for our little ones.  We already use mostly ‘green’ household products at home, and have decided to slowly make the transition over to the personal products we use for us and our children.  We have a lot of ‘research’ to do, and hopefully will learn a lot too.

These are some products we recently purchased, on a ‘trial’ basis, that are up for consideration.  Would love to hear about what you use, and especially about how you manage your budget with these pricier options.

xo

{Sweetest Mami}

launched by Jessica Alba - the Honest Company

 

Baby Wash by Little Twig

 

Baby Bee products by Burt's Bees

 

*Please, correct me if I’m wrong someone.  It’s hard to keep all the facts straight.