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

 

{Happy Valentine’s Day} and an introduction to my newest venture…

DSC03781I’ve been quiet for some time, but for good cause.  I recently launched my own business, and it’s been consuming my weekend and evenings — in a good way.  It’s a business venture I hold dear to my heart, because I’ve had it in the works for over five years now, but the timing has never been just right.  After years of planning this out in my mind, I’ve finally launched my own wedding business – Sweetest Celebrations.  Having a love for beautiful interiors and soft, romantic spaces, I am focusing more on the styling and decor of weddings and less on developing a timeline and logistics (although support is offered in those areas, as well).

It has been a real exciting few months as I’ve defined my brand and vision a bit better, through dialogues with friends, family and other professionals in the industry.  My overall goal is to help couples style their complete suite of wedding events, from their engagement session and rehearsal dinner to the actual wedding day.  I offer wardrobe consulting, source props and furniture to use or rent, and prepare inspiration and design boards to help them visualize the wedding of their dreams and find the right vendors to bring it to reality.

I will be sharing some of my favorite moments here on my blog, and hope you enjoy them.  I promise not to make this a wedding blog.  I will have a wedding blog on my website, once it’s launched formally.  In the meantime, continue to visit my {How Sweet Life Is} blog for updates about my family, interior decorating finds, and a fun recipe or entertaining tip here and there.

Here’s to wishing every day is a sweet one, and hoping your Valentine’s Day is full of joy and love.

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xoxo

{Haydee} the sweetest mami..

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

gift guide

I admit, this is more of a personal wish list, but thought it could be of use to any of you still shopping around.

With only seven days until Christmas, you may still be able to get your hands on many of these items, either online or in stores.  I like the idea of giving {and receiving} gifts that are personal and also seen as little luxuries that can brighten any day.

Here are the details:

Clinique lip gloss ‘Air Kiss’ $15 at Sephora; Bare Minerals Makeup Palette with Gold Clutch $30 at Sephora;  Personalized Stationery $15 at Shutterfly; Michael Kors Rose Gold Watch $295; Personalized iPhone Case $39 at Shutterfly; Mini Measuring Tapes $10 at Kate’s Paperie; Vintage Cakes book $15 and Decorate Workshop book $18 via Amazon Personalized Acrylic Tray $55 via Mark and Graham; Gemstone Ring $39 at Banana Republic; Olene Fragrance by Diptyque Paris $88; Amazing Grace Gift Set by Philosophy $39.50 at Sephora; Pink Pocket Planner $15 via Amazon; Gold Bow Double-Belt $28 at Banana Republic; Beaded Geometric Belt $55 at Calypso St Barth; Swarovski Vintage Rose Pen $34.

{Happy Shopping!}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

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

Collages

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~

{lovely holiday gift guide} brought to you by the TomKat Studio

{the TomKat Studio 2012 Holiday Gift Guide}

It’s that time of the year already, and if you haven’t started shopping for Christmas gifts yet, you are in luck!  Of the many gift guides that are published during the holiday season, I have to admit my favorite one is the one that the lovely Kim Stoegbauer of the TomKat Studio puts together.  The TomKat Studio 2012 Holiday Gift Guide is just full of beautiful [and practical] gifts for every one on your list!

I haven’t had time to fully go through the guide yet, but at first glance I am really loving the gift suggestions for little girls and tech lovers.  I have to admit, though, my favorite part of the guide is the many FREE printable gift tags featured in the guide.

I hope you enjoy this sweet guide as much as I do.

{Happy Shopping!}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

host your own {wine tasting party}

FREE PRINTABLE SET CUSTOM DESIGNED BY HOW SWEET LIFE IS!

Wine Party Printable Set

Every year, we host a wine tasting party in December to kick off the holiday season.  I usually try to create a few custom menus and rating cards to use, and this year I created a coordinating set that I wanted to share with others interested in hosting their own wine party.

I hope you enjoy my first free printable party set, and I look forward to sharing photos with all of you after the party is over.

Here are a few previews of the FREE printables, along with links to download each item separately for your personal use.

{Happy Wine Tasting}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

You can download the FREE printable items following the instructions at the bottom of this post.

Bottle Labels (File Includes Labels 1 – 10)

Wine Pairing Suggestions

Wine Tasting Card (File Includes Up to 8 Wines)

Download your FREE printable items separately here, by clicking on the link, and saving to your computer as a PDF file.

Printing Instructions:  Make sure you set up your printer preferences accordingly to match the file size.  I suggest you print the bottle labels on plain printer paper and the rating card and menu card on heavy card stock.