A Wild West Birthday

Ok I’ll admit I probably enjoy planning Westley’s birthday parties a little too much. I usually lock in next year’s theme the day after his party. Type A extreme? I think so. But also I recognize I only get a finite number of years where I get to be the CBO (Chief Birthday Officer) and I am fully taking advantage.

I was especially thrilled for his third birthday party because he’s now at such a fun age. He’s immensely enjoying everything, fully participating and really into his birthday. From the song and blowing out the candles to the party and of course the presents.

Because W has a January birthday, immediately following the holidays, I want to make sure he feels like his big day is special and not lumped into the Christmas craze. This may be the June baby (celebrations and gifts every six months) in me speaking, but I’ve always felt bad for people who have birthdays around the holidays because so often you hear – “this is your Christmas and Birthday gift.” Or worse, there is no celebration because everyone is holiday-ed out. So this mama has made it her mission to ensure her wild man’s wildest birthday dreams are realized.

Ever since we landed on the name Westley, I’ve been dying to bring to life a “Wild West” themed party. And lucky for me, Westley is absolutely obsessed with horses. He watches Spirit on Netflix repeatedly, rides his rocking horse and loves cowboy boots. So naturally, I decided this was the year for Wild West.

Here are the details on throwing a party that will have guests saying, “howdy partner.”

The Venue

A venue should bring the theme to life and there’s no better place than a horse farm to create your own version of the Wild West. Lucky for us, North Florida provides the perfect backdrop. We landed on Happy Trails Horse Ranch because the birthday party package includes a variety of activities for the kids and the location is roomy and open for the adults attending. Ms. Nikki, the owner and party host, is incredibly sweet and patient with kids!

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The Décor 

Being outdoors, surrounded by pastures, horses and nature, the décor doesn’t have to be too extravagant to create the Wild West feeling. I landed on the traditional red bandana print to pull everything together, ordering table runners for the picnic tables and a table skirt for the cake table from Oriental Trading. I used large mason jars with fresh sunflowers as the centerpieces and voila, the West is born.

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The Goodies

This theme is perfect for maximizing party favors/goodies since they serve a dual purpose as part of the décor. I wanted each child to feel like they’re part of the Wild West, so I ordered cowboy hats, bandana, sheriff stars and mustaches! Oriental Trading has a great party pack that included most of the favors for a really affordable price. The best part, these favors were used as table settings, adding another visual element to my tablescape.

I also wanted to provide some fun propos for photos, so I purchased a giant “Wanted” sign along with a pack of western themed props on a stick. This is a fun and inexpensive way to highlight the party theme and inspire people to capture fun photos!

The Cake

The cake to me is the centerpiece of the party and should really embody the theme. We have an incredibly talented cake artist here in Tally who has been making Westley’s cakes since his first birthday. Her cakes are not only works of art, but they are so delicious. My favorite part of working with her is I trust her vision completely. I usually tell her my theme, send a few inspiration pics and she comes back with a description of the cake creation. Of course, the final product is always ten times better than I imagined.

This year was no exception. This is my favorite cake yet. It captured the Wild West theme perfectly incorporating denim, cow print, a cowboy hat, sheriff’s star and rope. It was absolutely gorgeous! The inside was equally satisfying with red velvet (my favorite) and chocolate cake with buttercream icing. Nom nom.


The Food

When I think Wild West, I think hot dogs…no clue why, but in my head it made perfect sense. I researched a few options and landed on a hot dog cart called Frankly Delicious. It was a cool visual with the cart and big red umbrella, but it was also a great decision because I did not have to worry about picking up food, setting up, getting plates, etc. The hot dog cart was a one-stop-shop. Party guests could choose from hot dogs, Bradley’s sausage or chicken sausage along with fun toppings including coke onions, chili, cheese and traditional toppings like mustard, ketchup and relish. The meal came complete with chips and drink. This was the perfect meal for both kids and adults! I highly recommend a food option like this because it’s totally hands off for you as the host, kid approved and nostalgic for adults.


The Fun

The party was kid and adult approved. The kiddos got to meet the horses, feed the horses, go on a hay ride and then ride a horse. It was a perfect mix of activities that kept the kids engaged and entertained. It was an absolute blast! After all the fun, we sang Happy Birthday and wrapped up a very magical and memorable birthday.



Birthday Party Planning Tips

I’m a big fan of planning all events, but especially my son’s birthday parties every year. Pro tip: start early and plan throughout a few months, so you’re not stressed and have plenty of time to nail all the details. This also means you’re spreading out your expenses and not paying for everything at once. With Westley’s birthday right after Christmas, I usually plan his parties in three phases, breaking up the tasks, so I’m not overwhelmed.

Here’s a breakdown of my party planning choreography.

Phase One (Pre-Planning, a few months out)

  • Decide on theme
  • Plan your party budget
  • Secure venue
  • Design and order invites (I’ve used Vistaprint the last few birthdays and they have cute designs and awesome promos)
  • Lock in cake (my cake lady is in high demand and books far in advance)
  • Research food options and get pricing for comparison
  • I also research décor and goodies and usually create a wish list for reference when I’m ready to purchase

 Phase Two (one month out)

  • Mail invites
  • Finalize food plan
  • Purchase decor and goodies for guests
  • Have photo plan in place (If I’m in charge of taking photos A. I’m not in them and B. There won’t be very many memories captured)

Phase Three (night before/day of)

  • Open all decor, paper goods, goodies, etc. and have everything sorted and ready for party time. (This saves an enormous amount of time and makes things way less stressful)
  • Pack necessary supplies in vehicle including a cake knife (forgot that for his 2nd birthday and my FIL had to make a grocery store run, while guests eagerly awaited cake…won’t EVER make that mistake again), lighter, tape, etc.
  • Confirm with any vendors (cake, food, venue) to ensure everyone is stil on board
  • Give yourself time to decorate and arrange party goods and have a team of people willing to help (my hubby and mom rounded out the party trio this year).
  • Sit back and actually enjoy your child’s birthday party after all the planning!

 Lessons Learned/Things to Consider

  • Plan ahead
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate
  • Have a friend, family member or professional photographer capture the memories
  • Have someone else handle food (having a hot dog cart offering a one-stop-shop for food, chips and drinks was well worth the investment)
  • Be in the moment and enjoy the birthday party with your child

Do you have any party planning go-to tips?



My 8 for 18

This year is already flying by. I intended to get this post written the first week of the year, but it’s been fast and furious. Between Westley’s birthday party, work travel and life — I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write.

I’m not a fan of resolutions because it becomes a joke to see how fast they can go down the drain. Instead I see every new year as an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months and let go of what doesn’t work and continue doing what makes you happy.

So with 2018 moving at a frantic pace, here are my eight commitments to myself and my family for this year:

1.Choose Happy – you can always look at something from a positive or negative light, so this year I’m choosing to embrace the good in everything.

2. Be Present – it’s so easy to get distracted, wooed by your phone, social media, held hostage by your inbox. We have so many devices and distractions, but I’m making a concerted effort to push it all away when I’m with my family.

3. Be Kind – there is so much hate and negativity in the world, so my goal is to always be kind, even to those who don’t return it. You never know what someone is dealing with or why they choose to act the way they do. Regardless, always take the high road and kill them with kindness.

4. Stay Fit – last March, I began working with a personal trainer and it has been a game changer. Working out has become a passion and a key part of staying sane and happy. I love seeing how much stronger I am with each work out and pushing myself to do more reps, lift heavier weights or conquer new exercises.

5. Reward Myself – as a working mom I’m always on the go and doing things for others. That’s 100 percent fine by me, but I also want to continue making time for myself from workouts and manicures, to quiet mornings and bubble baths.

6. Nourish my Marriage – I am lucky to have a true partner in life who supports me and believes in 50/50. Having a child has made our marriage stronger and we have so much to be thankful for, but I always want to make time for us. From late night talks and date nights to belly laughs and weekend getaways, I never want to lose what makes us, us.

7. Support my Tribe – I have so many wonderful women in my tribe who I love and respect. Often times we don’t see each other as much as we’d like, but I’m committed to making time for lunches, manis, ladies nights and if not, at least phones calls, texts and lots of positive vibes sent your way.

8. Keep Creating – I was so excited when Word Press sent me an email alerting me that this domain is a year old and it’s time to renew! That means I’ve been blogging consistently for a year and I love it. Having a creative outlet to share my thoughts is rewarding. I love hearing from people I don’t know who find what I create valuable. I want to keep sharing, creating, photographing and looking off into the distance, while I dream BIG.

Can’t wait to read this post next January and see how I did. I’m excited for this year and what lies ahead.



Plan Ahead: A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish

One of my favorite parts of starting a new year is getting a new planner to keep me organized. It may be my Type A personality, but there is something so exciting about writing down all the planned activities for the year, adding work and personal travel and filling up my calendar with to dos. Am I right?

Part of staying organized for me includes color-coding. I use my favorite Pilot FriXion Color Sticks, which are erasable gel pens that come in a variety of colors. Because I’m beyond crazy, I assign a different color for Westley’s activities, personal/family trips/events/activities and then each of my clients has a unique color, which allows me to quickly glance at my planner and immediately know what event corresponds to what person or client. The best part…these pens are erasable (they actually work, not like the old school blue pens with the grey eraser of elementary school), so my planner does not look messy or disorganized when something inevitably changes. (Not a fan of a messy planner) On top of color-coding, I outline the days I’m traveling with a highlighter – pink for personal and yellow for work travel. All of these things combined, help me stay organized and on top of my to dos.

Speaking of to dos, I’m a huge proponent of a good To Do list, which of course I hand write. For me, writing things down makes it stick. I also like feeling accomplished when I write out my weekly to dos, so I always add a few items I’ve already conquered, so I can immediately cross them out. I feel accomplished from the get go because nothing feels better than crossing out an item on the list 🙂

Since I am trying out a new planner this year, I wanted to share a list of my favorites, if you’re in the market for a planner!

Bloom Daily Planner – I came across this company (my 2018 planner) when looking for the perfect planner for this year. I immediately connected with Bloom because the mission is to “help women bloom into the best versions of themselves.” Sold! It’s made for women, by women and the designs are absolutely adorable. I went with the Pineapple design with the words “Be Sweet.” I chose the Monthly & Weekly view layout. Excited to become a #BloomGirl.

Lilly Pulitzer Agenda – This has been my go to agenda for the last few years. Not only do I love the beautiful patterns and stickers (I’m still stuck in my Lisa Frank days…LOL), but the layout is great. The monthly calendar view also includes a To Do list section and there are notes, travel lists, pockets and more. Definitely a great choice!

Simplified Planner, Emily Ley – This planner features a minimalist design and luxurious paper with open pages, bringing to life the company’s mission “to inspire women to organize, simplify and carve out white space for the good stuff of life.” This line includes Daily and Weekly editions based on your organizational needs. Every planner purchase also includes Emily’s monthly “planning tips” via e-blast. Emily Ley also has Home + Kitchen, Baby + Big Kid Books, Journal + Notebooks as well as Notepads + Notecards.

Are there any planners you love or organizational tips you use? Would love to hear from you guys.

Happy Planning!




The Best EOY Sales

So you’ve likely been shopping for everyone on your list except YOU. Enter the end of year sales, which beg you to shop with deep discounts (some up to 80 percent off).

I’ve been doing a bit of shopping over the last few days (shocking, I know) and wanted to share a list of some of the best sales currently happening.

The best part, a lot of these retailers have winter and spring clothing on sale. It’s a great time to add a few pieces to your winter wardrobe, while starting to build your spring looks at a major discount!

Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale – The twice annual Nordstrom never disappoints with designer duds up to 50 percent off. While the clothing is great, the real winners in this sale are shoes and handbags! There are over 30,200 items listed and you have until Jan. 2nd to fill your shopping cart.

Evereve – This is a new retailer I’ve come to love because it’s contemporary and geared toward moms who are stylish. Yes, you can be a mom and be fashionable! Evereve carries a wide variety of brands from high end to super affordable. Santa Sam got me the vegan leather joggers, which are currently on sale. The sale boasts up to 70 percent off and goes through Jan. 1!

Red Dress Boutique – This little Athens gem, which was featured on Shark Tank, is having an EOY blowout with savings of up to 80 percent. I had way too much fun shopping online and scored everything from coats to floral spring dresses (already planning my Disney Cruise looks) – some pieces for only $10! You can do a lot of damage here.

Vici Collection – Another favorite boutique, this SoCal retailer carries some gorgeous pieces at super affordable prices. While they aren’t having a major sale, check out the “final few” section and use code SALEONSALE for an additional 50 percent off sale items! Pro tip, they ALWAYS have some kind of promo code available via Instagram or email, which gives you 20 percent off full price pieces. Don’t buy unless you’re getting at least 20 percent off!

Happy Shopping!



Skin Deep

Being on vacation for the holidays, I’ve given my skin a break from the daily makeup routine (much needed) and instead spent a lot of extra time doing masks and trying out new skincare products. It may be because I’m now in my 30s, but my skin really craves and enjoys a good face oil and extra moisture. It soaks it all in!

I get a lot of questions about my regular skin routine, which includes using mattifying micellar water to remove makeup and then washing my face with a facial cleanser followed by applying a serum, moisturizer (separate versions for day and night) and eye cream. Also, I follow the cardinal rule of NEVER going to sleep with makeup on! And finally, I try to do professional facials at least every three months, if not more 🙂

Pro tip: mix it up. Similar to the way I feel about shampoos and conditioners, I believe in shocking my skin with a variety of products, so it doesn’t become complacent. This is a mantra for many things in my life from haircare and skincare to working out. Too much of the same thing results in no change and a definite plateau.

So with that philosophy in mind, I usually use a few different masks, face oils and other skin products every week to ensure my skin never gets too used to one product type. The good news is there are so many products, it makes it fun to try different ones out and they last way longer since I’m not using them exclusively.

Another tip, look for gift sets or variety packs to try new products without paying full price for an entire skincare line that may not end up being what your skin needs. I recently did that with Beautycounter’s Counter Match Anti Aging system and I’m loving  it. I ordered the holiday gift set for myself and have been using the serum (a fave), day and night moisturizers and eye cream. The cost and size were perfect for trial and now I can order full size of the products I love moving forward.

Alway a favorite for discovering new products is Sephora! They have amazing sets for skin care, whether products from one brand or the variety pack. “Santa Sam” just gifted me the OleHenriksen “Glow Together” set and I’m in love. It includes nine products from the line from a Power Peel to a Truth Serum!

Here are some of my favorites by category.

Facial Cleansers

Your skin is a blank canvas and a facial cleanser is truly the foundation for all skincare. I’m a big believer in washing my face every morning and every evening. Once your skin is clean, you can then add all the extras like moisturizer, serum, oil, etc. Currently in rotation:

Origins GinZing Scrub Cleanser – this is great for a morning wash because it immediately wakes your skin up! The entire GinZing line is awesome – a few of the products will make other appearances in this post.

Beautycounter Rejuvenating Cleanser – cleans, replenishes and moisturizes skin. I’m also a fan of the brand’s Charcoal Cleansing Bar.

L’Oreal Pure Clay Charcoal Cleanser – brightens and cleans impurities with the power of charcoal.  I’ve also tried the other cleansers in the line including “Exfoliate & Refine” and “Purify & Mattify,” which are equally great depending on what you’re looking for. This is definitely my go to drugstore brand.

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The older I get, the more my skin craves moisture. I use daytime and nighttime moisturizers because they serve unique purposes. Just like you have clothing for the day and PJs for nighttime, you should also have corresponding moisturizers 🙂 On my current love list:


Origins GinZing Energy Boosting Gel Moisturizer – this is a great daytime moisturizer and the gel formula is fun to apply and adds instant hydration to the skin. Tired, dry skin? This is your go to.

Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion – a daytime moisturizer that constantly adapts to the ever changing climate and conditions “by adjusting hydration and oxygenation levels throughout the day.”

OleHenrickson Truth Advanced Moisturizing Creme – Another amazing anti-aging daytime moisturizer with Vitamin C and peptides. Your skin will thank you!


Beautycounter Recovery Sleeping Cream – I love this formula because it’s thicker and made to repair your skin, while you sleep. It’s full of amazing ingredients including Plum Oil. You wake up with skin that feels well rested and hydrated.

L’Oreal Revitalift Overnight Mask – Super thick and moisture packed, this is a nighttime moisturizer that also doubles as an intensive sleep mask. I use this a few times a week.

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Eye Creams

This area of your face definitely starts to wear with age and needs special attention. When you’re tired, stressed, etc. it shows in your eyes and that’s why a good eye cream is essential. That and lots of water and sleep! In my vanity:

Origins Refreshing Eye Cream – I suffer from dark under eye circles and this eye cream definitely makes a difference. It brightens and depuffs the eye area. This is one of my go to daytime eye creams!

Beautycounter Eye Rescue Cream – This is lightweight and helps brighten your under eye area for a more awake and refreshed look.

First Aid Beauty Eye Duty: Triple Remedy – I’m a huge fan of this brand and many of its products. This one in particular is delivered via a rollover to your skin, which I love and is made to brighten, depuff and smooth the under eye area. A winning combo!

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If you’ve ever seen the Meme with the old Steve Madden slider shoe and you recognize it/owned a pair (I did), then you know it’s time to incorporate serum into your skincare routine.

Belif Hungarian Water Essence – This is a lightweight serum that adds moisture that lasts.

Beautycounter Countermatch Serum – Power packed with moisture, vitamins and two forms of hyaluronic acid. This is the serum for your third decade 🙂

OleHenrickson Truth Serum – Anti-aging serum packed with Vitamin C and collagen! It brightens and moisturizes.

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Face Oils

As I mentioned, my skin currently craves extra moisture and while I never would have thought a face oil would be a good idea (I thought it would make my skin oily and gross), I’m a fan and convert. I first tried face oil in my Birchbox a few years ago and have been using them ever since including:

Fresh Seaberry Face Oil – One of my favorite brands, this face oil smells amazing and is packed with omegas, which helps maintain the skin’s youthful appearance.

Caudalie Overnight Detox Oil – A plant based oil that is made for overnight use, to clean and detoxify skin.

Clarins Santal Face Oil – Sandalwood, cardamom, and lavender tone and calm skin, while hazelnut oil soothes, smooths, and reduces redness.

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Last, but certainly not least are masks. I’m a bonafide mask junkie. I use them multiple times a week — everything from sheet masks (Walmart and Target have a huge variety of brands and types of sheet masks usually 2 for $5) to sleep masks (these are great for overnight repair), peeling masks and everything in between. I truly believe masks make a huge difference in your skin. While I use a wide variety, here are a few favorites:

GlamGlow Gravity Mud Firming Treatment – Confession, I always feel like a total Hollywood superstar every time I use these products. They are rich and decadent and leave your skin feeling amazeballs (as Guiliana Rancic would say). This particular mask is a peel-off treatment, which comes in the prettiest silver you’ve ever seen. You lather on a healthy layer onto your skin, sit back for 20-30 minutes and then peel off. It feels so awesome to peel off the silver layer to reveal firmer looking skin instantly! I’m pretty much a fan of every product GlamGlow makes, so look around explore and find the one that’s right for your skin needs.

Too Cool For School Egg Cream Hydration Mask – If you’re into K-beauty, this is is an awesome brand. I’ve tried a lot of the egg based products including the mousse and this mask, which is a favorite. It’s a sheet mask, so you cover your face with the sheet, wear it for 10-15 minutes and then rub in the remaining serum.

LUSH Cup o Coffee Mask – This is like a shot of espresso for your skin. The handmade mask has coffee pieces that exfoliate and the delicious coffee smell will wake you and your skin up! One of my favorite things about LUSH is the fact that they include info about who made your mask. Mine was made by Kevin 🙂

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I would love to hear about any products you love to use. Always in the market to expand my skincare toolbox!



Mom Hacks: Car Seats

Since I have a lot of friends who are either brand new moms or currently pregnant, it was pretty perfect timing that Reviews.com reached out to share with me some of the research and findings surrounding car seat choices.

There are so many decisions to make as a new parent and many times we make them with zero point of reference and very little research. There is no parent handbook and in my opinion, there are no right or wrong ways to do things. I’m a firm believer that what works for you and your family is the best decision always. No one lives in your shoes, so as a parent trusting your partner and your instincts is always a good idea.

Everyone will always have an idea, opinion, suggestion, etc. So with that said, I’m sharing overall info for all the new parents out there to consider when selecting a very important piece in your child’s arsenal of safety tools…the Car Seat.

As the folks at Reviews.com share, all car seats are designed to be safe, but some are definitely easier and more convenient to use than others. Their team of experts worked with over 100 parents to identify the most sought after features, while also consulting with child passenger safety technicians and pediatricians. They then compared the functionality and features of an infant car seat vs. a convertible car seat.

Since both serve unique purposes, they ultimately created a guide for each to provide parents with all the info needed to make a choice that is right for their family.

You can read more here about their tests and recommendations:

Infant car seat: https://www.reviews.com/infant-car-seat/

Convertible car seat: https://www.reviews.com/convertible-car-seat

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For W, we started with the infant car seat that was part of our travel set, which I absolutely loved. We each had a base installed in our cars and would take W into daycare in the car seat. When they’re little babies, the flexibility of the portable car seat is awesome. You can go from the car to the stroller in one easy click!

Once he was close to a year (he was big and tall y’all), we transitioned into the convertible car seat that will then become a booster once he’s old and big enough.

Good luck to all the mamas out there as you navigate all the safety and tools needed to keep those sweet babies safe.