Scenes From Our Weekend: A Luau First Birthday

A Luau First Birthday | |

Celebrating Greyson’s first birthday was an amazing experience even though the prep took all day and I was only slightly stressed at the last minute. However once I saw everyone arrive and enjoy themselves with food, drinks, and conversation I knew everything was going to work out perfectly. Since it’s Grey’s first birthday, and my first time organizing one, I wanted everything to be perfect and my luau theme to come together.

We picked a luau theme pretty early on in the planning process a few months ago. It’s a little homage to when we took our first wedding anniversary to Kauai (and where we believe he was conceived). It’s also a reflection of the beach life we live here in Ventura and since our apartment complex is like family, we wanted his birthday to be celebrated as a big gathering of friends. These people have been so supportive of us ever since we moved in, throughout my pregnancy, and especially during Greyson’s life. They’ve been witness to every stage and it’s truly special and meaningful that many of our fellow residents could make it to his party.

A Luau First Birthday | |

Our one family photo and there’s a sunspot right on my face! Nonetheless, it’s a good picture 😉

A Luau First Birthday | |

Greyson also sported Philip’s outfit from his first birthday in 1982! How adorable is that?!

It’s a LUAU!

A Luau First Birthday | |

No luau is complete until there’s a tiki bar! I made the sign using a banner from Target and a Sharpie. I also got the black tablecloths from Target and the skirts from Amazon. Because we were traveling to D.C. I ordered all of my Hawaiian decorations ahead of time that way all I had to do was set it up the day of the party. I did get last minute things the day before, but was really happy with how well everything seemed to come together!

Some might wonder why the tiki bar at a child’s first birthday party and I would answer, that no child birthday party should be without a little booze for the adults. The first birthday is moreso a party for the adults anyways considering Grey’s too young to even remember this party. So why not make it fun and enjoyable for everyone? I also got fun drink umbrellas and offered everyone lei’s as party favors (it’s in the details!).

A Luau First Birthday | |

Some of the last minute decorations I pulled together was this ‘Chasin’ Greyson’ poster. I wanted to display photos of Greyson from birth up until his first year and browsed Pinterest for ideas. I found this one then made it my own using the beach theme and my best attempts at drawing palm trees. Instead of using photos of his ‘firsts’ like in the pin, I opted for his monthly photos to show his growth since everyone who came to his party knew Philip and I while pregnant and had the opportunity to watch him grow up.

Also, I included a fun slideshow using the option in the Photos app on my iPad which pulls photos from any album and displays them in a slideshow with music. It was a fun little touch and took zero prep – just select the option at the top right of the screen and it plays all on its own.

I also asked our friends to sign his Oh, The Places You’ll Go book as a means of a guestbook. I’d love to have it out for every year up until he goes to school and collect as many messages from our family and friends as possible. Makes for a cute keepsake later on 😉

The Food

A Luau First Birthday | |

My mother-in-law has this amazing dip she makes every year for Christmas and when they told us they were flying out for this birthday and asked to contribute something I just had to have her make it! As expected, it was a huge hit and multiple people asked for her recipe. I simply shaped it in the form of a pineapple, arranged almonds for detail, and added the top of a fresh pineapple for a finishing touch. These chargers from Michael’s were on sale, too, so I decided to pick up a few to go along with the Hawaiian beach theme. I can’t take credit for the idea, so you can find the inspiration from Pinterest here.

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

We did a potluck style luau and our friends from our complex donated a lot of great side dishes. We catered the entrees from a local Polynesian restaurant in town and their short ribs were delicious. Originally we thought to grill, but at the last moment we decided to get food catered that way my husband and I could worry less about food and spend more time hanging out and keeping track of Greyson.

A Luau First Birthday | |

Hanging out with Grandma! Grandpa was there too but somehow he managed to escape the camera!

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

The Sandcastle Cake

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

When throwing a birthday party one of the biggest, and most important, decisions to make is all about the cake. I went back and forth in my head as to what I wanted to do: Should I get a custom cake? Should I make it myself? Should I buy a pre-made cake from the grocery store? Again, after some time looking through Pinterest for ideas I found a lot of inspiration for a sandcastle cake!

I bought deep cake pans from Michael’s and simply used boxed cake instead of making it myself (needed something simple to pull together). I also used vanilla icing and to make the sand I used a food processor to grind up graham crackers and toasted coconut. I was so surprised to see that it looked exactly like sand! To make the sand bucket indents on the top I cut large marshmallows in half, coated them with icing and dipped into the sand mixture. I did have leftover batter and made cupcakes with sand topping which we used for the traditional cake smashing and offered them to anyone who didn’t want an actual slice.

A Luau First Birthday | |

Greyson’s First Bite of Cake

Gift Time!

It was so sweet that our friends brought gifts for Greyson considering we put on our invitations that there were no need for gifts as their attendance to his party was gift enough. Greyson is so blessed with his grandparents in terms of toys, books, and practically everything in-between, so to see others brought him a little something was very touching.

A Luau First Birthday | |

He makes the cutest growling noise when he sees Cookie Monster!

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

The Little Red Car

One of the gifts from his grandparents and Philip was the classic Little Tikes coupe. My husband says he had always wanted one as a kid and never received one, so when it was time he wanted to make sure Greyson had one. It was precious seeing Greyson see the car and to know how much it meant to Philip.

A Luau First Birthday | |

A Luau First Birthday | |

How many of you had this car growing up? Did you pass down the tradition to your kids?

A Luau First Birthday | |

Greyson playing in his new car with his cousin who came down from L.A.!

A Luau First Birthday | |

I was so happy that my sister and her family could make it down from L.A. to spend the afternoon with us for his birthday. Greyson and his cousin Shiloh were born 9 days apart so it’s very special to have him here to celebrate with us! My sister is the only family that I have living out on the west coast in California and due to both of our busy lives it’s difficult to see each other often. So when we do I always take it in and enjoy the moments we have together. So happy to have gotten to see them!

This weekend, and party, was a whirlwind but we’re so thankful to everyone near and far who helped us ring in this monumental occasion!

What are the plans for your baby’s first birthday? Or how have you celebrated first birthdays in the past? What themes did you go with or did you do something super simple? I’d love to hear!

See how I threw a simple Luau First Birthday for my son! Simple ideas and prep to ensure the best party on a budget! | |

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Patio Inspirations For Apartment Living

I am so excited about our move – even if that means I’m not too excited about the actual physical aspect of moving. I enjoy packing and organizing, but unpacking and getting a head start on decorating is where my heart truly lies in this whole transition. Our new apartment not only has more square footage, a second level and a bedroom for Greyson, it also comes with two patios! One large patio on the main floor leading out from our living room and a smaller balcony off our master bedroom, which happens to be high enough to see the ocean.

Our larger patio will lend itself to entertaining for us as well as when we have guests; like our out-of-state friends and family this summer. This means we need all new outdoor furniture (here’s where my husband rolls his eyes and hears the money start stacking up, haha) and I am excited to pull a few ideas together in an inspiration board. Because, that’s free.

So, here are my favorite picks and favorite inspirations for our new patio space!

Patio Inspirations For Apartment Living |

Patio Dining & Entertaining

It all starts with the seating and outdoor furniture! We plan to use the bar table and two chairs we currently have for our patio for our master bedroom balcony, which is just big enough for a table and chairs that size. This allows us to enjoy a sunset over wine or relax with a book while taking in the gorgeous views of the ocean. The bar table also puts us high up so the ocean is that much more in view.

That leaves us with the main level patio which is large enough for this outdoor dining set. It’s a 6 piece set from Target and on sale for $849.99, which isn’t bad for a table, bench, and four wicker chairs. I read that the bench isn’t all that great from the reviews, but overall those that have purchased it love it. I plan to use the outdoor rug we already own (fingers crossed it’s large enough), but will need new cushions and pillows for the chairs.

I love the navy blue paired with the deep color of the wood table and comes with a hole for an optional umbrella. We have a hand-me-down from a previous neighbor and we’ve loved having it. However, it doesn’t properly fit the stand we bought and tends to lean or fall over, which isn’t good. Plus with the navy colors I, of course, would like to update our umbrella if we lean in that direction (see Sun & Lighting).


The way our complex is designed is that we have neighbors that are slightly on the close side when it comes to the patios and distance of apartments. As much as I love our community here, it would be nice to achieve some privacy while outside without coming off too obvious. Other residents I’ve seen use lattice or plants to create a little barrier that won’t get in the way of the sunshine or be an eyesore to others. I would love to use a lattice planter box like this one and either grow a vine plant or attach pots along the lattice as shown in the picture. Since our patio gets plenty of sun I want to bring a lot of greenery to provide a relaxing overall feel while growing some of our own herbs or even veggies.

Green Living

Speaking of greenery, I’m all about decorating using fun planters from *Etsy like these macrame hanging plant holders (I’m even excited to hang these indoors too throughout the house). This rectangular tabletop candle holder using succulents is just adorable and adds a fun touch to the dining area especially if we’re opting out of using an umbrella. Plants and flowers just add a beautiful touch to any space and makes it purposeful at the same time.

*Affiliate link

Sun & Lighting

Where our new apartment will be located in our complex the sun practically shines all day, which is great. Our patio will get a lot of sun, which will make growing and maintaining plants that much easier. One of the two options I had for our patio in terms of providing shade when lounging outside is: a large umbrella or a sun shade/canopy. Either option allows us to keep the patio covered or open, it’s just about how we can do it with the string lights I’d like to use for at night.

These wrapped Edison string lights from Target are just adorable and I can’t wait to hang them on our new patio. During the summers we spend a lot of time eating and lounging outside and these lights will give our space a slight glow. I’m trying to decide whether to string them along the trim (which is most common) or if I can somehow string them so they drape like a canopy across the whole patio (see example below).



Storage and organization is key to decorating a purposeful space (and pretty much the driving force behind my husband and I with everything). All of our things need a place and preferably out of sight. Since I plan on having various plants, I’d like to have a storage system that aren’t those plastic gardening boxes to keep my soil, fertilizer, watering can, etc. Because, let’s be real, it also has to be cute and go with the rest of my patio decor. Target offers some cute options and I like this wicker storage bin, which will closely match the chairs I’ve picked out.

Another small detail that I would like to incorporate are these cast iron wall hooks, which I would use for drying our bathing suits or beach towels. Again, we get so much sunlight it would be perfect to use to dry our wet things. I just can’t decide which design I like best!

We aren’t moving for a couple of months, but as you can tell I’m mentally preparing and cultivating various ideas to make our new place feel like ours. Due to the husband finding a job that he loves, and will ensure our staying here in Ventura for the long haul, we feel good about this next move being our last. Now it’s just about finding those unique touches and simple projects that will tie our forever home together, all-the-while maintaining our minimalistic lifestyle.

To see more of my home decor inspirations for both inside and outside decorating, feel free to check out this post which features some of my favorite Etsy shops! These accents are perfect for any home and makes me even more excited to move in the coming months!

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Scenes From Our Weekend | vol 7

This weekend had me feeling a lot of things.

Friday was Inauguration Day and typically I don’t feel one way or the other considering all the pomp and dutiful formalities that fill the day. However, this year was different. I was actually sad to see the Obamas leave the White House for the last time and to see Trump sworn in and occupy the most important position in our country. If Michelle’s face and stoic demeanor could represent my emotions of the day I would say it was spot on.

It was overall just a sad day for me; to realize and come to terms that his man, and his chosen cabinet, is our new President. To continue to hold out hope that he will lead our country in a positive direction. Honestly I’m still skeptic, but remain hopeful nonetheless.

But my sadness and fear turned to action and demonstration on Saturday.

Saturday was a powerful day for me personally. To have my husband and son march not just with and for me, but to stand next to the thousands of people who gathered in Santa Barbara to make a stance for equality. It’s more than Trump, as I’ve written in my last post explaining #whyImarchIt’s about being a presence that cannot be ignored and that a large majority of the American people demand that his administration realize what’s at stake and how prepared we are to ensure that our voices be heard. That women’s rights are, in fact, human rights we demand representation in the law; not just for women but for everyone.

Here are a few scenes from Santa Barbara.

So, thank you to everyone who came out in peaceful protest on Saturday. Thank you to the many families who marched together in the face of discrimination and intolerance.

Keep in mind that we all have much work to do outside of our march on Saturday. Our voices continue need to be heard that comes down to our active participation in our local and national governments. The Women’s March organizers have continued to share resources and have launched their next campaign called 10 Actions for the first 100 Days, which is one action every 10 days.


Express to your ELECTED senators why you marched or discuss the issues that you feel they should be representing on Capitol Hill. I used the Ink Cards app (it’s free!) to design a special themed Women’s March card and wrote to my senators about what matters most for me and for our country to be as inclusive as possible. Simply fill in your message and include your recipients and they’ll print and send your cards for you. In total I only paid $3 with free shipping. Done. This website also has an easy tool for you to type in your zip code to locate your senator’s public address.

Towards the bottom of the page you’ll find a box to input your email to stay notified of the next 9 steps in taking action within the first 100 days of the Trump Administration.

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Best of 2016 | A Look Back

It’s almost the new year which means it’s a great time to take a peek back at some of my most popular posts from the year. This is not only great as a means to see which posts you all have enjoyed reading in 2016, but it’s great to keep a thumb on the pulse of my blog and see what kind of content brings you all to visit! Today I am sharing my TOP 10 popular posts from the past year!

#10 The Only Child Debate: 7 Reasons We May Only Have One

Ever since Greyson was born we had a strong feeling of completeness to our family. So much so that even 9 months later we’re still 99.99% sure that he’ll be our only child. Of course things can change over time, but there’s this concept that only wanting one child is debatable. So, one of my favorite posts from the year was laying out the pros to having only one and the seven reasons my husband and I may only be a family of three.

#9 About Page

Okay, this isn’t really a post at all, but it goes to show that an About page is very important as it ranks as one of my highest traffic pages on my blog. Updating my About page is as equally important (learn more tips on maintaining your blog) as well as including a little bit more about myself and why I blog. This page is also important for collaborations or brands to get a sense of who you are – so make it pretty!

#8 Storybook Baby Shower + Invite Etiquette

I loved putting together this baby shower inspiration board because I loved getting to see how others pulled together a common baby shower theme: storybooks. I knew right away that I wanted a shower that would also serve a practical purpose and receiving books for Greyson’s first home library was great. Also, instead of a traditional guest book I really liked the idea of everyone bringing a favorite book and writing a little note to him inside – that way he remembers all the friends and family who love on him.

#7 Styling With Stitch Fix | December

Apparently this past month’s Stitch Fix was a hit! And I am glad because it was one of my favorites since scheduling them again. My stylist Whitney seems to really know me by now and I have really looked forward to the goodies she’s been sending my way. December was full of cozy knits, sweaters, and this awesome olive cargo jacket!

#6 Stitch Fix

I love using this Indexes plugin for WordPress because its allowed me to easily showcase index pages all on one landing page. Since I have multiple posts related to style and my Stitch Fix reviews, which are apparently pretty popular this year, having this index helps my readers browse and see which post they’d like to visit without having to scroll through entire posts. I highly recommend this plugin to anyone wanting to clean up their site!

#5 Styling With Stitch Fix | November

November’s fix was my first Stitch Fix since welcoming Greyson nine months ago. I was curious to see if my stylist could find me new pieces after being absent for so long and clothing that would make me feel comfortable in my postpartum body. I have yet to really lose the baby weight around my midsection and finding high-waisted pants and flowy tops are key for me right now. I wasn’t disappointed and I’m glad this was amongst the top 5 most popular posts!

#4 Bringing Up Bebe: The Art Of Doing Their Nights

When I was pregnant there were thousands of baby books to choose from that aimed to help prepare me for what will happen once baby comes home. It was overwhelming for me to say the least, but one book stood out above all the rest and that was Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. I really enjoyed reading every chapter of this book (as well as hosting this study!), especially about how the French sleep train their newborns and get them to sleep soundly during the night. A lot of what I read in this book, and the helpful tips from French parenting customs, has helped my husband and I get a hold on raising our infant son even to this day (read about our crying it out journey).

#3 Top Picks: Minimalist Baby Registry

Other popular posts have been related to living minimally and this registry board was a very popular post in 2016. I think there’s a misconception that new moms need everything under the sun and to not have certain products will leave you in distress or not as capable to care for your baby as others. All you really need are the basics or baby items that have longevity. This posts is dedicated to my favorite baby products that helped me transition home with baby and helped us into his first few months.

#2 Stitch Fix | Maternity Edition v2

Thankfully Stitch Fix began offering maternity fashions right after I got pregnant and so I was eager to find a few items that were affordable and would last me the rest of my pregnancy. I only had two maternity fixes, but really enjoyed the items I received from my stylist during such a transitional time. I ended up keeping four out of the five items and even still wear my thick cardigan today! The top I was undecided on, I ended up keeping, was perfect for me right after delivery as it was drapey, comfortable, and covered me up.

#1 Optimize Your Blog SEO Today

One of my favorite posts to write this year was exactly the kind of post I so often need reminding of: what to write when you have nothing to write about. Maintaining your blog is essential to any type of success and with blogging being very popular these days, you’re competing for page views and traffic against hundreds of thousands of others doing the same thing. Writing content is only a small percentage of your overall time and these helpful tips are geared to help you in those stagnant times.

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