{a freebie for you} advent cards for your sweetest ones…

Ok, I’ll admit, I’m a little late to the party this year.  Last year, I created a set of hand written advent cards with little messages and treats for my little ones, and I swear I saved them so I wouldn’t have to do it all over again…BUT we took out all the decorations for Christmas this weekend when we put our tree up, and they were NOWHERE to be found…

IMG_0539 IMG_0525 IMG_0529

Well, we did find Pepito, thankfully – our very own ‘elf on the shelf’, so I asked my husband to create a handwritten note for the kids on the first of December to kick off our advent tradition again, but it’s only the third day and we’ve already fallen behind.

I know it’s late, but hopefully my kids won’t notice.  I created these simple advent cards, using a place card template I use for weddings, which can be customized as needed for each day in advent.  It simply states the number of each day, with a short message “It’s time for…” which can be completed on the inside of the small tent card.  I simply didn’t have the energy right now to come up with 25 advent tokens, and thought it was best if I left it open to fill out as the month unfolds and so I could reuse them again in the future!

I’ve got some ideas I definitely want to reuse from last year, and hopefully you can draw inspiration from these too…

  • It’s time for a holiday sing-along party!
  • It’s time for ice cream sundaes
  • It’s time for a family movie night
  • It’s time for a fun Christmas craft activity
  • It’s time for you to find your new Christmas PJs
  • It’s time for us to bake holiday cookies

Well, if you are like me, and don’t mind being a bit behind with some traditions, I hope you enjoy the free printable –  Advent Cards (click the link to download the PDF).

Oh, yeah, and while I was at it, I also designed our family’s holiday cards, since (again) I fell behind on ordering these online this year and really didn’t think I could get these out on time unless I did them myself.  I hope to print these out soon, so I can get them out to those of you on my NICE list this year…stay tuned, as I’ll be happy to share the photo online once they’ve been mailed.

Until next time, Stay Sweet!




thanksgiving 2014
me. carving the cake. xo


these guys. love them to bits xo
these guys. love them to bits xo

I am so grateful today, for little things and grand things.  This year has been full of accomplishments, celebrations, and sweet moments, but also challenges.  As we recover from a bountiful Thanksgiving, I take this moment to reflect on all I’m thankful for today, and always.  Today, my home and heart are full of joy, as I sit back and watch my lovely children play and laugh, and my loving husband enjoy a much-needed break from his chef duties while he watches football and has a beer.  My life is busy, I’ll be the first one to admit that, but I wouldn’t change anything for the world.  I am without a dull moment, and it’s all worth it.

As many of you know, I finally launched my own business two years ago and it is SO MUCH HARD WORK but also so rewarding.  It’s a thing of beauty to create something on your own and watch it blossom over time.  Sweetest Celebrations is my passion and I have barely touched the surface of everything I want to do with it.  The focus is on celebrating love and designing and styling weddings, but I also feel a need to share more inspiration for your home and entertaining through my business.

I have missed blogging here, on How Sweet Life Is, as it became my outlet for expressing my gratitude and love for my family as well as a way to stay connected with our dearest friends and family.  I have neglected this blog for too long, overthinking what I will share and creating the perfect blog post as an extension of my new creative business, but I realize now that simplicity is best, when it comes to many things in life.  Expect to hear more from me in the future, whether I’m sharing a sweet moment with you that made my day, sharing a sneak peek into my home, or simply sharing a tried and true family recipe that I can’t get enough of.

I tried keeping a journal and it was to no avail.  In an effort to do it all, I have left to much ‘for later’ and regret falling out of touch with my first love – writing.  I have baby books to fill, family photos to hang, and decorating projects to finish.  Follow me as I continue on this crazy and fun journey, and share with you my ups and downs, and turn to my words for comfort on days (like today) when I’m feeling just a bit overwhelmed because there’s just a little too much on my plate…and writing gives me the release I need to continue and feel renewed.

Thank you for taking the time to read my humble blog and stay connected, and thanks to all you fellow blogging mamas who continue to inspire me with your DIY projects and stories about your sweet families.  I am grateful for my little family who keeps me busier than I’d like to be, but also gives me hope and fills me with more joy than my little heart can handle sometimes.

{thank you for all your support and may you find joy in the simplest pleasures, today and always}

Stay sweet.




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.

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}
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}




walking for a great cause…join the {march for babies}


Over three years ago, I received the best news ever.  I was expecting TWINS.  The emotions I felt at that moment cannot be described.  Joy, excitement, and anxiety all bundled into one ultra happy moment.  My doctor alluded to the news by pointing to a blinking blurb on the ultrasound screen and saying ‘You see this, this is one heartbeat over here’…then my husband I were quick to notice another blinking blur on the screen, and asked ‘So, what’s that?’, to which we heard ‘and that’s another heartbeat’…the words that followed fell on deaf ears, we were so stunned at the news.  The doctor was quick to point out, though, that we should not get too excited because all too often this could quickly become another case of the ‘vanishing twin’.  That sort of burst our bubble, right then and there, but we remained optimistic.

Months of doctor’s visits, days and nights ruined by morning sickness, and too many hours spent dreaming up the perfect nursery for TWO followed.  I was due in February, but by November my belly measured the same as that of a woman carrying one baby at eight months!  It was early December when I went in for just another routine doctor’s visit, that turned out not to be as routine.  I was asked to walk over to the hospital wing so they could admit me because they detected abnormalities in the blood flow going to the babies, and Baby B was especially compromised at the moment.  I was only 26 weeks along when this happened.  I don’t think I understood how serious it was, because I remember asking the doctor if I could go home and come back with my husband, and when he said I needed to stay, the reality of my situation quickly sunk in.

That first night in the hospital was so hard.  Victor stayed with me all night, the first night of what would be a three-week stay.  I was strapped on to all sorts of monitors and the hospital staff kept rushing in at whatever sign of stress was noted on their screens.  On that day, they brought someone in to have a very serious talk with me about the possibility of not having both babies make it through the pregnancy, or maybe not even that night.  As I write this, I fight back the tears.  They were asking me to make a choice between one or the other.  That was not an option, I said.  I choose both.  I thank God that my situation lasted another three weeks, as every day I endured one more day on bed rest was another day my babies grew stronger inside of me.  So many people asked me if I was tired of being in the hospital, and I could not understand their concern.  I patiently waited for days to pass so that my babies’ risk of suffering long-term illnesses due to premature birth would decrease.  I shopped online for Christmas gifts for my sweet husband and wrote out all my holiday cards from the hospital, without a feeling of regret for being in my situation.  It was, simply, out of my control.  Some asked if I was sad I would not get to experience a natural childbirth.  I was not.  I was grateful just to be able to experience motherhood, when the time was right.

The day came at 29 weeks.  Baby B was under distress and it was time to go into surgery, so that the babies could be delivered and start their next phase in the NICU.  They were so tiny, but I still heard their little cries as if off in the distance.  I caught a glimpse of each before they were whisked away to the NICU with their proud father.  I didn’t get to see them properly until much later that night, when I was being transferred to my recovery room.  They were so tiny and fragile, but much larger than I’d imagined they’d be, given their birth weight and length — Baby A was born at 2 lb 5 oz, 14.5″ and Baby B was born at 1 lb 12 oz, at 13.75″.  I was in love with them at first sight.  Such sweetness in such a small package.  I was blessed.

I was released two days later and left the hospital without my babies.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, and it was even harder staying home alone with all their baby items in my room and an empty nursery that had not yet been decorated.  The pain from the surgery was unbearable at times, but it didn’t stop me from visiting them each day and bringing them fresh breast milk with every visit.

We didn’t share photos of our babies when they were born, because we wanted everyone to feel joyous for their birth and not pity for their overly tiny bodies.  We didn’t name them right away either, because we were preoccupied with their health and wanted an opportunity to get to know them first.  A week after they were born we settled on the names Eva and Zoe.  {I wrote a sweet blog about their naming here.}

We got through each day, one at a time, facing new challenges along the way and not knowing when they’d come home with us.  Two months and two days after their birth, Eva and Zoe joined us at last, at a meager 4 lbs and 5 lbs respectively.  Those days were very hard, adjusting to two little ones in such a fragile state.  I don’t think many understood how delicate they were, at first, but we stood fast and did everything possible to keep them safe and healthy during their first few months home.

Introducing Eva Grace and Zoë Elyse
One day after coming home — 2/26/10

We continued to face many challenges once they came home, but were happy to have them with us nonetheless. Eva has undergone two eye surgeries, and had to wear a corrective helmet for three months.  Zoe has had one eye surgery, as well.

A moment to reflect...
First Birthday — 12/23/09

It is easy to forget those tough times we had in the beginning, not knowing what awaited us while they were in the NICU.  I would have never thought I would have been a NICU mom, going to visit my girls for months in a NICU, and becoming so close to the nurses who watched over my babies like their own.  Many babies came and went while my girls were there, and I longed for the day when I’d bring my girls home.  It pains me to say that not all babies that spend time in the NICU go home.  It was hard to see some parents with their little ones, that were in less fortunate situations.  Sadder still are those situations where parents take their babies home, but they still struggle after their stay in the NICU.  A few months of go, one of my blogger friends lost one of her twins to a very rare disease caused by premature birth, and it still makes me sad to remember her journey, and how optimistic I was during the baby’s treatment but how heartbroken I was that he didn’t make it.

I must admit I felt a certain level of anxiety when I reached 29 weeks again, with my second pregnancy last year.  Thankfully, though I made it through to 39 weeks, and welcomed a baby boy last year in March, healthy and huge compared to the girls — Lucas was born on 3/31/13 at 7 lb, 19″.

Zoe & Eva meeting Baby Lucas {the reason I couldn't walk in last year's March..} xo
Zoe & Eva meeting their brother Baby Lucas – born 3/31/2013

Now they’re three, my sweet girls.  They are still petite, but full of energy and joy.  Eva has an affinity for music and dance, and Zoe is the playful one who is a natural at sports.  

{sister love}
{sister love}

I know this is a long story, and it means a lot to me if you are still reading.  The reason I share my story is that I want to do what I can to help bring other babies home healthy and strong despite being born prematurely.  Better yet, I want to help in the fight against prematurity.

“Did you know?  In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely.  

Every year, nearly half a million babies are born too soon in the United States, a 36 percent rise over the last 25 years.  Premature birth is the number 1 killer of newborns. ” – the March of Dimes

On Saturday, April 27th, I am walking in the March for Babies to show my support for the March of Dimes.  I invite you to join me in the walk, to show your support, and if you can’t join in person, I appreciate any donation you could afford.  Every little bit counts.  Help me make a change in a little one’s life today.


{Thank you}



{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.

vday 2013 copy


{Haydee} the sweetest mami..