Random Neural Firings

the inner workings of a restless creative brain

Gymnastics Party for a Boy – Good Luck with That


My son takes a gymnastics class once a week – this is a “real” gymnastics class with a balance beam, rings, uneven bars, floor work, etc. It’s hilarious to watch these little 3 year olds bop around. We had him in a sports class last year which he did not like because he said the other kids were faster. Being the uber-competitive person I am, I told him that he needed to practice and he would get faster. Being the more astute person that she is, our nanny pointed out that he was the youngest and shortest, so you know, maybe that had something to do with it. Wow, I missed that one.

Anyhow, I digress. His birthday is coming up and I was hunting around for a theme. I figured race cars because he’s way into them and there are lots of cute (i.e. not Disney) race car ideas out there. But then I thought about how nice it would be to have his party somewhere that ISN’T MY HOUSE this year and he LOVES gymnastics, so we’re having his party there. The coaches take the kids through a whole circuit. I think it’ll be fun.

But decorating? A nightmare. Just like walking into a kid’s clothing store where 75% of it is for girls and we have one tiny corner of red and navy BORING clothes in the back – ALMOST ALL the gymnastics party stuff I found was for girls. Ugh. You can see some of the stuff I did find on this Pinterest board. (How did I plan parties before Pinterest? And where were you when we were building the house?)

So I really liked this cute cartwheel silhouette invitation but didn’t want to commit to a whole retro theme. Mostly because anything else I might buy (like favors) was likely to be red, white and blue. I decided to make my own invitation using Publisher. Here’s what I came up with:

And then I uploaded it onto Pingg, which is like Evite only you can upload your own design. I also printed it out (for the two people whose email addresses I dont’ have) and made some little “stamps” to put on the outside of the envelope. I used PicMonkey for that. I just uploaded two clip art images into a collage, saved it, uploaded it again as a single image and applied a ragged border to look like a stamp.

For favors, I ordered these sport bottles and I customized them with the “Jump Bounce Flip Play” words I used on the invitation. I also ordered these “gold” medals and will put those around the bottles. No favor bags or boxes needed this year!


For decorations, I found this personalized repositionable wall decal. Yeah, that’s a girl in the middle, but it’ll have to do. We only have 15 minutes to set up at the gym, so I’m hoping I can throw this up behind the cake and tie a few balloons to some chairs and voila! It’s a party – not quite Pinterest-worthy but we’ll see!

And for the cake? I found this idea and send it to Sweets for the Sweet; she made his awesome airplane cake last year.

She’s going to do something like this (but double layer) in primary colors for this year. And to make this even more fun, one of our good friend’s daughter is just 12 days older than our son. They hadn’t gotten around to figuring out what to do with her birthday, so we’re going to join forces. It’ll be one big gymnastics bash – and I’ll have an extra pair of arms to rush everything in and set it up!

I’ll post pics of how it all turns out.

Airplane Birthday Party


I am so far behind on publishing these photos! We had my son’s 3 year old birthday party at a local private airport. They have a playground for kids and a “hangar” with picnic tables. I took some boxes I’d printed up for a client that look like suitcases and re-purposed them as favor boxes by covering up the client info with a “Hunter Airlines” label. Once again, I ordered a birthday banner with a photo from each month of the past year from Mary Had a Little Party on Etsy. This is my third year ordering banners from her and they are so cute! The cake came from a local baker who does AMAZING work. The airplane is actually edible – made out of molded chocolate! I bought this cute take-apart airplane toy and used it as a table decoration along with the favor boxes. I got super lucky and found this outfit by Le Top on sale online. There are plenty of airplane shirts out there; I just loved that I found one in the party colors (yes, I am that ridiculous).

Need more ideas for your own airplane party? Check out my Pinterest board just for planes. I made the boarding pass invitations and favor tags myself; email me if you want the art and I’ll send it to you. I stuffed the favor boxes with little foam airplane flyers and gave each kid Richard Scarry’s “Day at the Airport” book. I also made some paper airplanes from a template that’s in Microsoft Word and set those out with crayons but it was so windy that nobody could really do that. The kids just wanted to play on the playground and watch the planes. They were plenty entertained!



posted under DIY, Etsy love | 11 Comments »

I Did It Again


I liked the turquoise yarn wreath so much that I decided to make a pink one for Valentine’s Day. Same as before, only this time I used a green Styrofoam form; it wasn’t as messy as the one I used before which flaked off everywhere. Also the one I used before was straight around the outer edge; this one was round which made for a tighter yarn finish. I spray painted it pink first just in case there was some wreath showing after I wrapped it. And this time, I wrapped the yarn around TWICE which also gave it a more finished look. I found these ADORABLE felt flowers on Etsy – the petals are heart shapes – and glued them on with hot glue. I debated wrapping the whole thing with ribbon but texted my friend, Ally, who said she preferred it plain. I used six flowers and doubled them up.

I’m kind of loving it!








Perfect Gift for Angry Birds Fan


Any Angry Birds fans out there? Angry Birds is an addictive little game for your mobile phone and one of the most popular apps available. Cheap for iPhone users, free for the Droid. My husband plays it. I play it. Lots of other people play it. This guy likes it so much he turned his children into birds and pigs to recreate a bird suicide mission in photography.

Or there’s this guy who created a set of Angry Birds out of Legos, which I dare not show my husband for fear I will lose him all weekend to the tackle box of Legos he saved from his childhood.

If you’re a fan, or know someone who is a fan, I’ve put together some links to Angry Bird merchandise for your shopping pleasure.

  • The official Angry Bird shop. i-Phone cases and plush dolls.
  • Looking for something hand made? Check out these crocheted angry birds. My husband wants this pig and I think it would look great in the built-ins in our living room. I think home decor should have a sense of humor, don’t you?

So there you have it . . . the perfect gift for the Angry Birds lover in your life. Rumor has it there’s a board game coming out soon, too, but I think we’ll skip it. Half the fun of this game is its low commitment; you can play it for a few minutes in line at the grocery, or anywhere, anytime.

Cross-posted with a few minor edits over at my work blog.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas from Etsy


Less than a month to go before Valentine’s Day. Plenty of time to shop if you’re going with chocolate or flowers but barely enough time if you want something personalized or custom-made. Here are a few sentimental gift ideas I’ve found on Etsy, one that I ordered for my hubby (but won’t say which one in the unlikely event he’s reading this).

Personalized crossword puzzle from NellaDesigns. Choose your colors, names, dates, etc. Just $22 for 8″x10″; she has larger sizes, too.

She also makes these cute, personalized silhouette prints of children. I see one with a boy pushing a truck; maybe I’ll get my son a Valentine’s Day gift this year, too!

How cute are these hand-stamped Hugs and Kisses bookends? And a very reasonable $34, too! This seller also makes bookends stamped with Love, and cute pillows, too. I particularly like his family pillow, customized with your last name and the year your family was established. Adorable!

I love, love, love this custom family tree print from cozyblue for $30. Love the rustic, yet modern feel. She makes them in several different colors so poke around her site to find the one you like.

Truthfully, some of these ideas are things I like. Chris is pretty sentimental so I think he would dig them, too. But your guy might prefer that you buy some new lingerie and surprise him with that.

Reminder: I accept no advertising and no paid endorsements. I only write about products I own or wish I owned!

2nd Birthday Bash – School Bus (And Other Vehicles) Party! – WFMW


We were so fortunate to have our son’s 2nd birthday party in our brand new house with room for all our visiting family. Christopher’s parents made the trip, as did his sister and darling niece. My dad came in. It was wonderful to see everyone.

As you may have heard, Hunter is obsessed with buses and trucks. Cars, planes, and trains are OK, but he really, really loves buses and trucks. So we went with a transportation theme. Here are the pics and links to where I got everything!

The “Kids’ Table.” Cones and construction hat (which we filled with fruit bars for the kids) from PartyCity. School bus chalkboard decal made by WallCandy. I found it half price on a one-day online sample sale (HauteLook, I think) but you can find it here if you want to pay full boat.

We got the school bus cake from a friend of a friend who does this as a hobby. I shudder to think how much this would have cost at a proper bakery! If you’re brave enough to try and make one yourself, I did find some tutorials online here and here.

See, PopPop? This is an octagon (Hunter’s favorite shape, I think!). Stop sign was a super cheap find at Party City.

Last year, we got an ADORABLE photo banner from Etsy seller MaryHadALittleParty. We worked with them again this year for another banner (GREAT keepsakes; we will treasure these forever), and also had them make this door sign and favor bags and tags. The designs came from their Go! collection. They added a bus for us and customized the colors.

The food was a hodge-podge. We made some stuff, bought some quiches and breads from Whole Foods. Served mimosas to the adults!

In the favor bags, we had miniature race car notebooks I found on Amazon, truck stickers from Party City, and these darling truck crayons from Etsy shop Red Elm Designs. They were so nice to work with and created a nice mix of vehicles for us.

Having fun with Nana and some of his new toys.

Last, but not least, we bought these cute thank you cards from JMCollections on Etsy. They are sitting right here, waiting for me to fill them out! (Our holiday cards are also sitting here.) <sigh> I’ll do better next year.

This post is part of the Works for Me Wednesday series. For more great tips, check out WeAreThatFamily.

Second Birthday Right Around the Corner



My son is obsessed with buses and trucks. He likes cars, trains and airplanes, but he LOVES trucks and buses. So it seems pretty obvious what theme we should have for his second birthday party. I’m thinking of going with school buses primarily but not sure I want a whole bright yellow party. Still working up ideas but here are some of our initial thoughts.

My husband’s going to make a sign similar to this but perhaps a bus stop or stop sign:

I’m going to buy some of the bus fabric on the right and use it in the invitations somehow. I haven’t figured out how yet:

I bought these giant school bus cookie cutters and will make sugar cookies as favors. Note to Ruthie: I haven’t iced a sugar cookie since I was, like, 12. Need your tips STAT! I also bought cookie cutters shaped like a train, an airplane, and a truck. These cookie cutters are HUGE. Maybe I’ll make sandwiches and cut them out in vehicle shapes?

Maybe these cute little favor tags:

I’d like to find a crossing guard uniform for Kirby to wear. She’ll kill me but she’ll probably do it. Kirby is my best friend’s 21-year old daughter who works all my parties. She’s the best hostess/server/set-up/tear-down person ever. Plus, she is very, very dear to me. Here she is at my son’s first birthday party:


I bought this very nice school bus chalk board decal that I’ll post somewhere welcoming everyone to the party. (Bonus: I got it half off on one of those online sample sites.)

school bus decal

So these are a few ideas we’ve come up with. If you have some more, please share them in the comments. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Message in a Bottle (Top Ten 2009 RePost)


I found this on Etsy a while back and bookmarked it: a message in a bottle service! This seller takes your text, types it up on vintage paper (using an old TYPEWRITER no less!), seals it with wax and your monogram, rolls it up in a teeny, tiny bottle and attaches a cute vintage key. She then boxes it up and mails it for you. All this for just $15.

How GREAT would this be for a niece of nephew? Just a surprise letter telling them how much you care — maybe on their “half birthday.” Or send your sweetie a note. I think my pirate-loving nephew would love this; maybe I’ll send him one for Halloween.

Stuck for a gift idea? Send me a note (or a message in a bottle) with the subject: “Find it for me ‘Rean” and if I use your question, I’ll send you a $25 Amazon gift card.

A New Use for Bibs (Works for Me Wednesday)


Ever since we started Gymboree, my son has been one big snot monster. He had his 2nd cold in as many months last week that has now turned into an ear infection. Poor baby. As we reach for the softest tissues or “snot rags” as I call them, (check out the adorable little monster swipers from FrankAndMe on Etsy), I realized it’d be a lot faster to put a bib on him and swipe the cascade of snot with the bib. (This only works with the soft cotton infant bibs, not the slick bibs used later for messy eaters.)

You may remember that I’m very PRO bib, especially if you have a spitter or a drooler (teething); mine was both. He’s got most of his teeth in now and doesn’t spit up all the time like he used to so the bibs had been sitting in the drawer. But I’m busting them out again! Soooo glad I didn’t pack these away in a fit of “organization.” (Who are we kidding? Those fits are TOO few and far between!) I, of course, have a ton of Zutano bibs which mix and match well with his clothes.

So that’s my lame little tip. Hang onto the bibs. Use them when your munchkin has a cold. Works for me!

This is part of the Works for Me Wednesday series, hosted by WeAreThatFamily. Go there for more tips!

The Pinwheel Party! (Works for Me AND Wordless/Wordful Wednesday)



I wanted to subtitle this post: How to Outsource an Entire Birthday Party because in essence, that’s what I did. I fretted about it for about a minute; after all, I can use scissors and glue and could probably have made pinwheels and decorations myself, but given that we just moved, have a new nanny, have had too many illnesses to count, have a stove with a finicky oven (meaning no way was I going to attempt a cake), etc., etc., it seemed wise to just buy everything. But — and here’s the catch — I didn’t want it to look like some pre-packed party from the party store. I wanted it to look creative and unique and just like I did it all myself, which many of the party  goers thought. Haha! Fooled them!

The Occasion: My son’s first birthday

The Location: Our temporary rental (while our house is being built). 2BR, teeny tiny, so we limited the guest list to 20.

The Theme: My son loves anything that spins so I came up with the idea to do pinwheels. I also wanted a “color story” and focused on orange and yellow with pops of red.

The Planning: I did nearly all my research online (surprise, surprise) and used Evernote to keep track. You can see my notebook here. There are all sorts of random pinwheel things I found, including pinwheel jewelry (I contemplated wearing some) and shirts for Hunter to wear. I’m a HUGE fan of Evernote and will tell you more about it next week for Tech Tuesday.

The Vendors:

  • Email invitations: I contacted Ariana at Becoming-Mom, because she just opened an Etsy store and she designed some darling pinwheel invitations for me. (If you haven’t read her blog, yet, you should check it out. It’s one of my favorites.)
  • Pinwheels, pendant banner (with pinwheels), pinwheel favor boxes: Twirlie Whirlies Etsy shop. She could not have been more pleasant and fun to work with. I picked four papers from her selections and she made pinwheel after pinwheel for me. They were “real” pinwheels, too (meaning they spin) and the pendant banner she made is SO cute that we’re putting it in Hunter’s room. The stuff was perfectly packaged and really, really cute.
  • Photo banner (also with pinwheels!): This custom banner was made by MaryHadALittleParty’s Etsy shop. When it arrived and my husband saw all the photos of Hunter, he got very choked up and quietly asked me if there was a way we could preserve this for him some day. I emailed her pictures from each month of the last year and she picked the ones that worked best in her format. She stuck with yellow, orange and red circles and added some pinwheels to the end. Really sweet.
  • Pinwheel repositionable wall decals: These were a stroke of luck: bright, colorful pinwheel wall decals from Flair4All. I also bought some alphabet decals from them to spell out things like “Happy Birthday.” These are all going in his room as decorations. (I figure even though we’re only here for six months, I can totally use a lot of this stuff to decorate his room!)
  • Food/Cake: The cake was made by a local woman who works with a friend of mine, so I don’t have a link to share with you. I gave her very little direction beyond “pinwheels” and love what she came up with. The food came from SouperJenny’s, which if you’re here in Atlanta, you probably already know about. The only catch with the food is that the party was on Sunday and they aren’t open on Sunday so we had to pick it all up Saturday. Our fridge is WAY TOO SMALL so we had to drop it all off at a friend’s house. The same friend who knows the Cake Lady. Good friends.
  • Lollipops, candy: I found all the candy at a local candy store and got the jars at the Container Store. If you don’t have a candy shop locally, Google “whirly” or “swirly” lollipops. Lots of folks sell them online. I also got the favor boxes at the Container Store.

The Result: My dad, sister-in-law and niece came in for the party which was soooo nice. My best friend, who is insanely busy with her own kids, was able to make it (we held the party on Sunday to work around her kids’ schedule), as were several other close friends. Hunter was a bit overwhelmed by all the people. He did NOT smash his cake. Just kind of looked at it like, “Huh? What am I supposed to do with this?” All in all, a fun time.

OK, enough talk. Time for some pictures!













Today’s post is a two-fer, meaning I’m including it in both the Works for Me Wednesday series AND the Wordless/Wordful Wednesday series. For more great Works-for-me-Wednesday tips, check out WeAreThatFamily. And for more great pictures, go to SevenClownCircus, 5MinutesforMom, and WordlessWednesday.

Friday Random Ramblings


Honestly, how many times can my baby get sick? He’s had a fever ever since he got his H1N1 vaccine the other day, which I’m told is a normal side effect. But he’s also coughing and sneezing and has a runny nose so I suppose he’s picked up a cold somewhere. Poor little guy keeps waking up at 4:00 a.m. and refusing to go back to sleep. It’s like having a newborn again only I’m NO LONGER ON MATERNITY LEAVE!

In my sleep-deprived, worried-mommy state, I’ve not done much web surfing but do have a few things to share with you:

Drugstore.com has a pretty good promotion on diapers right now. I usually buy diapers on Amazon, but needed some things that Amazon doesn’t carry and found the prices and shipping at Drugstore.com to be pretty good. (Free shipping over $49.)

Looking for a table runner for the holidays? Apartment Therapy has a nice roundup of hand made table runners from Etsy sellers.

Facebook has new guidelines for sweepstakes, contests and promotions. This affects me in my day job (marketing consultant) but also as a blogger who has run some Facebook contests. Just in case you do, too, make sure you read up on the new rules!

Last Sunday was my son’s 1st birthday bash. It was a small affair, but I did my best to decorate LIKE CRAZY and make it memorable. I’m working on posts and plan to have them up next week. I’m also working on some more contests to help you out with the holidays.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Wish us luck getting everyone healthy here!

Great Gift for a Special Somebody: Message in a Bottle


I found this on Etsy a while back and bookmarked it: a message in a bottle service! This seller takes your text, types it up on vintage paper (using an old TYPEWRITER no less!), seals it with wax and your monogram, rolls it up in a teeny, tiny bottle and attaches a cute vintage key. She then boxes it up and mails it for you. All this for just $15.

How GREAT would this be for a niece of nephew? Just a surprise letter telling them how much you care — maybe on their “half birthday.” Or send your sweetie a note. I think my pirate-loving nephew would love this; maybe I’ll send him one for Halloween.

Stuck for a gift idea? Send me a note (or a message in a bottle) with the subject: “Find it for me ‘Rean” and if I use your question, I’ll send you a $25 Amazon gift card.

Cutest Burp Cloths Ever – New Mommy Monday


Sure you can just use cloth diapers or any old towel to catch that spit-up, but I wanted cute burp cloths.  I figured if they were going to be laying around all over the house, they ought to match the decor.  I found TONS of cute burp cloths on Etsy — just like the designer ones at the baby boutiques, only less-expensive, plus you’re buying directly from the mom who made them.  I dug that.

Here are a few of my favorites (the photos are linked to the seller’s shops):

But some of my all-time favorites are the Monster Burp Cloths from Etsy shop Frank and Me.  I think this design is hilarious and the cloths are super-soft (made of fleece).  I also bought some of her little “swipers” (think booger-wiper or wash cloth) and a funny monster tooth fairy pillow for my monster-obsessed 4 year old nephew.  (Big hit!)  How cute are these?  These would be great to stuff in a shower basket for the next non-traditional momma you know.

Those burp cloths are fast-becoming my son’s “lovey.” Here he is cuddled up with them the other night. Isn’t this sweet?


Just a reminder: these are all items I actually own. Nobody sent me anything to review. Everything I blab about is something I own, know someone who owns, or want to buy.

Owl Ideas – Hope These Work For You!



A good friend of mine is going with an owl theme for his daughter’s 1-year birthday. I sent him some ideas the other day and then I noticed on our Facebook page that one of this blog’s readers, Courtney, is going with an owl theme for her daughter’s nursery. I posted some  links for her, too.

And then I thought, duh, maybe other people would like links to cool owl stuff for babies? So here you go, by request, sort of, my list of owl stuff.

Bedding: Pottery Barn Kids Brooke Collection

Toy Box: Etsy Shop ModMomFurniture

Mini Owl Stuffed Animals: Perfect for a baby’s room or party favors from Etsy seller AprilFoss

Wall Decals: Repositionable fabric decals (forest creatures) from Etsy seller LoveMaeStore

Mobile: Check out this bamboo, laser-cut owl mobile from Branch (eco-friendly shop) – not pictured above but it’s cute!

Birthday Party or Baby Shower:  Cupcake toppers and party decorations from Etsy seller CiaoBambino

Perfect Little Owl Outfit: Zutano Owls print (register for our giveaway – deadline TONIGHT at midnight – and win it!)

Hand-Made Owl Shoes: These baby shoes from Bugaloo are sooo cute! I just ordered a pair for my son.

Looking for ideas for your nursery or party? Or just gift ideas in general? Email me at sherean at gmail dot com and I’ll see what I can rustle up.

This post is part of the Works for Me Wednesday series, hosted by WeAreThatFamily. Lots of great tips and tricks there every Wednesday!

The Nursery


When I was pregnant, someone asked me what theme I was going with for the nursery.  “Theme? What do you mean?” I asked, “Like Winnie the Pooh?” No offense to Pooh fans but cutesie themes made me gag worse than chicken (I didn’t have food cravings when I was pregnant but I had serious food aversions).

I wanted a modern nursery, stylish, but with some whimsy.  I figured that the nursery was for me: until my son was old enough to tell me that he absolutely, positively loves Thomas the Train more than anything else, I’d be choosing the decor.  Later, he can go all train-happy if he wants. (Just please, God, let it be trains and not NASCAR.)

OK, now that I’ve offended all the NASCAR Winnie the Pooh lovers, here’s what I decided on for the nursery:  black and white with pops of bright yellow.  My inspiration was one of my shirts. Y’all remember when INC (International Concepts) had a sea of black, white and bright yellow clothes?

I searched and searched for bedding in my chosen colors and found nothing. Most of the black and white stuff I found was damask which felt too girlie for me. (Even though the room was for me, I did want it to transition into a little boy’s room some day.)  Then I came across this set and thought it’d make a good base. Of course, I didn’t use the bumper or quilt, so that was a big waste of money. If you decide to go bumper-less, save yourself the money and buy a sheet, crib skirt, and curtains to match. Voila! Instant design. Get a rug, too, if you can find one you like.

Since I couldn’t find bedding with a pop of yellow, I went nuts and painted the walls bright yellow. No wonder the kid won’t take naps. One pregnant, insomnia-filled night, I decided I wanted a wall of black shelves so I searched and found nothing and decided right then and there that my husband should take up woodworking, which he sort of did, and made some built-in shelves. (They turned out great, Honey!) I also decided the baby should have something hand made from each of us so Christopher took some of his childhood Legos and made the Lego Dude on the ledge.  I have yet to make my hand made item. But I bought lots of stuff on Etsy that other people made. That has to count for something, right?

Anyhow, time for the pictures, which is what you really came for, right? Keep in mind, I am no decorator. It’s not as neat and tidy as those adorable rooms I see over at ProjectNursery, for example. But I’m proud of it. It’s different and it suits us.

And you know the best part? Since we’re moving in a few weeks, I get to do it all over again! (Seriously, we’re going to be in a rental while we build so I can’t do much but I’m thinking of going with a green wall color and buying some re-positionable wall decals to spruce it up a bit. It’ll be Nursery 2.0.)






Items in the Room:

Baby Cache Manhattan Nursery Furniture from BabiesRUs

Wall ledges from Michael’s

Canvas storage bins from Container Store

Artwork – free -from artist Kal Barteski (cheap frames from Michael’s)

Down East Midnight Bedding from Carousel Designs (only available in their outlet; if you want black and white, check out their Black and White dots collection, which is similar)

Dandelion wall decal (large) from Etsy seller LewasDesigns

« Older Entries

Favorite Posts

 Subscribe via reader

 Subscribe via email

Follow Me on Pinterest