Lily turns ONE! A sweet bunting affair | part one

{All of the photos featured on this post were taken by the talented Kim Romano (cousin = lucky me!) of Kimberly Photography}

Preparing for Lily’s first birthday party was an intense labor of love. I was up to my eyebrows in fabric, tissue paper, Mod Podge, paint and baby food jars! Pinterest was a treasure chest of ideas and originally I had planned a carnival themed event (Check out my board devoted to birthday party inspirations here). There are so many incredible ideas for that theme, but with all of her friends being around 15 months and under I decided to save it for next year’s bash! The fun games that are associated with a carnival/circus event will be more enjoyable once Lily and her buddies are a wee older. So how did I end up on a bunting theme??? There seems to be a bunting craze lately and I was inspired by this DIY fabric bunting and this invitation and this invite too! With a summer birthday I wanted to incorporate pink, melon, yellow and orange colors and those invites had that scheme in addition to a bunting…Ding!

 I called up my fabulous friend Emily, of Emily Ley Paper, to help me out with the invites and they were adorable. Emily added her creative touches with sweet wording like: RSVP to Lily’s mommy!  Another charming phrase was that the party started at 11 am and ended at naptime. Now no ordinary envelopes and stamps would do for my precious baby so I used a pop of color on the envelope and vintage stamps in shades of red with pink flower images (including a lily on a few of them!). Head over to Emily’s blog to check out her sweet southern bowtie themed party celebrating Brady’s birthday. The vintage stamp idea was taken from her incredibly unique invites….I don’t think I will ever see an invitation that innovative…ever!

Now onto the homemade bunting that draped the ceilings, mirrors and hallways. That project is a blog post all on it’s own! In attempts to keep this post from a small novel I will chat about that another time! During the process of making the main bunting I realized I was sinking way too deep in DIY projects and purchased a pre-made burlap one (hanging in front of the sweets table) from Two Chikkdees on Etsy. Sometimes you have to know when to call it quits….and I did…several times during preparations!

With all of the buntings hanging everywhere I wanted to keep the rest of the décor sweet and simple. My dining room became the food and drink station and my kitchen table transformed into the sweet spot with a smash cake area. Children got to nosh on slices of grilled cheese, Buddy Fruit pouches, fruit kabobs (on rock candy skewers) and snack cups filled with animal crackers, cheerios & goldfish. Other food options were cups of pasta salad and sandwiches prepared from Publix (time savor!).

White fadeless paper (found here) was used as a tablecloth over my dining room table and in lieu of food cards I just used pen and wrote on the paper…easy right! To highlight my sharpie notes I used lovely little tissue pom poms made by the CEO of crafts, Martha Stewart.  Mason jars with colored straws were displayed for the chilled raspberry lemonade. All adult beverages were appropriately stored outside on ice in Lily’s red wagon (another cute idea from Emily).

I placed the same white fadeless paper on the kitchen table, but since the table was round I ran into a glitch where the table peaked out from under on both sides. Target has had a huge amount of pink and blue ombre merchandise lately. The cute yellow and pink cups holding the wooden forks are from that line ( a birthday gift from Emily, along with some other goodies & a bottle of wine, she knows me well!). In their gift-wrapping isle they had a great selection of tissue paper, bows and wrapping paper in the same color scheme as the party. I utilized the wrapping paper down the middle of the table to cover the parts showing. Wrapping paper is a really cute and inexpensive way to dress up a table for a party.

Desserts featured were Trix crispies (recipe found here), Starbuck’s cake pops (a gift we gave to nurses at the hospital when Lily was born) and homemade strawberry cupcakes. My mom and I crafted mini buntings for the cupcakes with tooth picks, pink twine and washi tape (Got the idea from this pin).

I kept my family room exactly the same expect threw in a blow up pool with balls for the kiddies to play around in. This brilliant idea was taken from the birthday party for Kim’s son, Nick, that I will post soon! She even let me borrow her plastic balls (score!).

All of the marvelous pictures Kim has taken of Lily over the past 11 months were scattered around the house. I found nifty white frames on stands that displayed pictures on both sides. The best part…they were only $.99! Gotta love Ikea! The other small white frames were $1.99 from Target and all other frames were ones I already owned.

Along with pictures I had fresh flowers in the color scheme sprinkled all throughout the house. I used over sized mason jars along with baby food jars I dipped in paint (inspired by this pin). I will explain this fun and easy project in another post soon! I picked up oversized letters at Joann to spell out ‘one’ and Mod Podged tissue paper on top (I will post about this project soon as well!). Above that hung a bunting with monthly shots of Lily to track her growth.

One of my favorite parts was the chalkboard (that I DIY’d) covered with pictures from all of the firsts Lily experienced this year. It ranged from the first cry when she was born to wiggling her toes in the sand for the first time. Putting it all together made Mike and me realize how many wonderful memories can be made in a year!

A very HUGE thank you to my mother, for without her help this party would have consisted of only purchased buntings and maybe a balloon or two. She was my helpful sidekick through all of the DIY projects and who sweetly coined the experience “The Romano Sweatshop.” I owe you a big one!

my mom hard at work!

And to Kim Romano- THANK YOU for being so awesome and taking great photos of the party. I adore the sweet moments you capture on film, it is a priceless gift! Head on over to Kim’s blog for more!

 
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  1. Kim Bee commented:
    June 27, 2012 Reply

    This is one gorgeous party. I am blown away by the attention to detail. I’d also like to thank you for sharing my link to the Trix. It was so sweet of you. Happy Birthday to Lily, she’s precious.

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 28, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Kim for your sweet words! I love the recipes on your blog and this one was unique & full of color- a great spin on the original rice crispy treat!

  2. Rachel Swan commented:
    June 27, 2012 Reply

    Amy all the details are amazing! You have such a great eye for everything. Please know that as soon as I get preggers I’m hiring you to plan all the parties!! Love you girl!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 28, 2012 Reply

      {blushing} Love you too Rach…I would LOVE to help you with all your darling parties for the little-Swan-to-be!I will take any excuse to visit the Carolinas and our cute face!

  3. Lauren commented:
    June 27, 2012 Reply

    Everything looks SO beautiful!!

  4. Emily Ley commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    OH. MY. GOODNESS!!!! I am so sad I missed this!! It’s so PRECIOUS, AMY!!!!! Goodness gracious I can’t get over all the details!! The blow up pool was GENIUS!! And the cupcakes! And the “Year of Firsts!!” Gracious! This is adorable. Times twelve. Happy birthday, Lily!!!! xoxo E + B + Brady

    • Emily Ley commented:
      June 28, 2012 Reply

      Um, and by the way. Is your husband wearing pink shorts in the top photo? Can he please impart some of his fashion sense to my husband!? Cute!

      • Amy Romano commented:
        June 28, 2012 Reply

        Target- can you believe it!!!! They also come in green and yellow;)

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 28, 2012 Reply

      Thanks love!!!! Well my friend I got great ideas from you too;) Remember we need our date night- I want to hear all about Sonoma! xoxoxo

  5. Jen Pollon commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  6. Christine Friedberg commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    GORGEOUS!!! I mean seriously Amy, WOW!! You put the rest of us moms to shame!! I’d hire you to come do Madison’s first birthday because otherwise she is going to get a blow up pool, a few balloons and a cake (I just won’t tell her about Lily’s cool party!). Miss you guys!! Hugs!

  7. Diane commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    Amy, this party is just gorgeous! I love all the details! All of the buntings are great, but it’s everything else that pulls it all together. I love the IKEA double-sided frames, the dipped baby jars for the roses, and I just adore the Year of Firsts frame. Oh, and the baby pool ball pit was genius!

    Love it all and hope you were able to sit back and enjoy the party once it came. Happy Birthday to your precious little girl – she is such a doll!

  8. becky commented:
    July 9, 2012 Reply

    So funny, I was thinking of doing a carnival for my lily’s firs
    t bday, but like you decided to wait until next year, and this is exactly what i have been thinking of doing because I already have hunting in her room :)
    Great ideas!!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      July 9, 2012 Reply

      Well Becky like they say, great minds think alike!Take advantage of that bunting you already have!!!!

  9. Stephanie commented:
    January 6, 2014 Reply

    Hi Amy! I just came across the picture of Lilly’s firsts on Pinterest and thought, oh that looks like my neighbor.. Oh wait, it is my neighbor!! Awesome! I love the pictures of her first birthday, makes me think I need to start planning Tessa’s big day! Hope your pregnancy is going well! -Stephanie

    • Amy Romano commented:
      January 10, 2014 Reply

      HA! This is so funny! Yep the ‘year of firsts’ has been pretty popular on Pinterest! The pregnancy is still kicking my butt…only 8 more weeks! If you want to brainstorm for Tessa’s birthday let me know! Plus I have so much party decor you can borrow…so just come by if you need anything!!

  10. becky commented:
    February 16, 2014 Reply

    Was wondering if you used any kind of sealant on the chalkboard to keep the wording from smearing? Would like to make it but be able to display it in baby’s room.

    • Amy Romano commented:
      February 18, 2014 Reply

      Hey Becky- I use chalk pens to keep it from smearing! The pens go on wet, but quickly dry so you won’t smudge it! The chalk can easily be wiped with a wet cloth! You can find chalk pens online or at Joann Fabrics!

  11. Janessa commented:
    August 12, 2014 Reply

    Hi Amy,
    I was wondering what you did to get the pictures to stay on the chalk board ?

    • Amy Romano commented:
      August 19, 2014 Reply

      Hi Janessa! I just folded tape and attached it to the back of the pictures. I laid all the pictures out first to make sure how they would all fit before though!

9 Trackbacks

  1. By Lily & Bliss | The bunting project on July 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    […] I mentioned in the post about Lily’s birthday, it was an intense labor of love! I fell in love with this pin on Pinterest and felt inspired. […]

  2. By Lily & Bliss | bud vases from baby food jars on July 7, 2012 at 11:58 am

    […] you know it two hours have passed!  Countless hours were spent researching ideas for Lily’s first birthday party on Pinterest. The paint dipped baby food jars blogged by Oh Happy Day were so easy and the […]

  3. […] first 12 months to add your own personalized memories and moments you don’t want to forget. A Year of Firsts: Created by Amy of Lily & Bliss with chalkboard paint and photographs, she framed and […]

  4. By Lily & Bliss | We Have Been Featured! on July 15, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    […] Here again is a picture of the chalk board I made over with a year of firsts for Lily’s birthday (read about the party here)! […]

  5. By Lily & Bliss | My First Mod Podge Project on July 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    […] have had a few people email me asking about Lily’s birthday party and where I found the letters spelling “one”. Those letters were a DIY project that was SUPER […]

  6. […] many emails asking about the ‘year of firsts’ chalkboard picture gallery I made for Lily’s first birthday party. Out of all the DIY projects the ‘year of firsts’ was the easiest! I had a few pictures […]

  7. By Lily & Bliss | Is She Really Almost 2? on April 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    […] a year ago we shared her first birthday here and […]

  8. By Lily & Bliss | Free & Cheap Toddler Activities on April 28, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    […] of 100 plastic balls from Target for $14.99 (found here). Kids love this so much I had it up during Lily’s first birthday! Above picture courtesy of Kimberly […]

  9. By Best 1st Birthday Party Ever - Shakadoo on June 24, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    […] Little Lily turned one in June and her Momma worked hard to set up a wonderful little birthday party! Not only was the food cute and delicious, but the decorations were very nice.  Here’s my favorite, […]

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Making life easier: kid proofing the entertainment center

sorry for the blurry image!

Our entertainment center is conveniently the same height as Lily making it easy for her to tug at the DVR, Blu-ray player and apple TV devices. My child has discovered buttons and must continuously touch them including flicking the light switches on and off. I don’t mind her touching the DVR buttons if it brings her so much joy. The issue is that the other devices sit on top of the DVR and have breakable parts.

The Blu-ray machine has a flap that she likes to pull down on and she also yanks on the Apple TV device pulling all the wires from beneath- a huge disaster in the making! I knew that the flap would be broken off and possible electric shock from the wires was inevitable unless I found a quick solution. Babies R Us sells TV button shields, however pressing buttons was not the key issue. Even if I tried to place the equipment on top of the console it would still be in fingertip range for catastrophe.

So with no real option I decided to make my own shield to protect the entertainment center and Lily. The shield needed to be plastic so I could see through it and that it wouldn’t interfere with signals from the remotes. I opted for the cheap Target plastic picture frames ($1.99) and Scotch mounting putty to secure them under the DVR.

Three frames were used side by side to completely prevent her from reaching the devices. I started off splitting one putty bar in half and realized that it needed to be doubled to grip the undercarriage of the DVR machine.

two layers of mounting putty

I lifted one corner up as I slid each picture frame in and once I knew they were in the correct spot I lowered the machine down. I applied a bit of pressure with my hands on top to make sure the putty had a firm grip.

The only thing left to do was to test my little contraption…and IT WORKED!! The plastic frames become grubby from her fingerprints and being able to see the putty bothers me a bit. In spite of this I am still a happy camper as it solved my problem in a cheap and easy way!

 
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  1. Desiree commented:
    November 30, 2012 Reply

    Woah! I’m really digging the template/theme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective.
    A lot of times it’s very difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability and visual appearance. I must say you have done a amazing job with this. Also, the blog loads super fast for me on Opera. Superb Blog!

  2. Kristine commented:
    December 12, 2012 Reply

    great idea, ive got the same problem, but how do you get into the blueray player?

    • Amy Romano commented:
      December 14, 2012 Reply

      Hey Kristine! You know we don’t use our blueray player that much, we typically rent via OnDemand. But when we have popped in a Barney movie it’s really simple. The plastic shields are attached to the bottom of our Verizon tv box. Our player sits on top of the Verizon tv box and I just slide it out a bit so I can reach past the plastic shields. Sometimes when I’m lazy (that’s most of the time) I leave the Verizon box alone, push the blueray player back, reach around the guard and take out/insert the new dvd…and it works! Lily hasn’t learned how to do that yet!

      If you are wondering how to kid proof your media center send me a picture at lilyandbliss@gmail and I’ll give you some ideas! Hope this helps!

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One to remember

My friends this was an amazing weekend for the Romanos!

Friday Lily turned one and we treated her to her first trip to the Tampa Zoo. We were a bit nervous about the weather as signs of tropical storm Debby started to appear. With only light grey clouds we decided to go for it and we lucked out with no rain….only thick humidity! So thick you could slice it with a knife! I could have cared less about the pools of sweat under my eyes, down my back, and under my bra because Lily had the time of her life. Mike and I witnessed a whole new Lily as she literally screamed in glee at every single animal exhibit! We got a whole lot of looks and laughs as people saw this child’s excitement.  I have a feeling I might need to purchase the family pass, as there will be many trips to the Tampa Zoo!

The birthday celebration continued Saturday at our house. It was a bunting themed party with tons of DIY projects that were an intense labor of ….love, sweat and tears. My cousin, Kim Romano, took amazing photos of the event and I will share them, along with all the sweet details that made Lily’s first birthday ONE to remember in a few days!

getting messy with the smash cake

Today Tropical Storm Debbie hit Tampa. Wind and rain are still pounding our home and we took full advantage of a rainy Sunday. It has been forever since we have been able to just chill as a family in our pajamas at home all day long. My ideal kind of weekend! Because of my crazy OCD, we cleaned the entire house last night after Lily went to bed. Some of the homemade buntings from her party are still hanging (due to the massive amount of time it took to make!). Our pool has turned into an infinity pool and her baby pool is overflowing as well. Going outside to make sure we were cleared of flooding, Mike decided to dance in the rain with Lily. These are the moments that I will remember and cherish. Those tiny hands reaching into the sky catching drops of rain. Her huge grin as Mike ran her in and out of the rain.

Entering this weekend, along with Tropical Storm Debbie, I was a bit of a downer. I was full of anxiety over my mile long to do list for the party and depressed that my baby was getting older. Then over the past few days I was reminded how blessed my little family is and how with each day Lily gets older we get to experience even more incredible sweet moments. Life. Is. Good GREAT.

Thumbs up mom!

 
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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    June 25, 2012 Reply

    Sounds like a great weekend! Happy Birthday, Lily!

  2. Diane commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    Her little thumbs up at the end is precious! Glad you had a great weekend! Those little moments like dancing in the rain are so precious!
    And I didn’t know you live in Tampa – that’s where I was born and raised!

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Happy Birthday to my sweet Lily

Lily turns ONE today! I still can’t wrap my head around it. I can still smell the hospital room and the scent of her newborn hair. Didn’t we just take her home from the hospital ? I could have sworn she only learned how to roll not too long ago? This is crazy. Prepping for her party Saturday has been a flood of emotions. I have gone through piles of pictures from the past 11 months and there is this inner tug-o-war of joy vs. sorrow in my heart.

Sorrow because it went by way to quickly. That small baby that would fall asleep in my arms now wants to escape to explore the electrical outlets (like a moth to a flame) or pull dirt out of the planter (awesome;/). She was that small baby that I could lay next to on the ground and just dangle some rings and that would keep her entertained forever. Now as soon as she picks up a toy she tosses it for the next, and so on and so on until every toy is out of the box.

Joy because to watch Lily grow and learn is a treasured gift. This past week alone she learned how to clap, walk with only wanting assistance with one hand, climbed over the ottoman (aka my baby gate, guess I have to actually get gates now!), and find delight over pressing buttons (I mean she has to touch every single light switch, garage door button and the air conditioning touch screen!). I can see her little brain working so hard when I introduce new words. When Lily learns something new she tilts her head, gives the biggest smile so you can see all four teeth and does a little happy dance (cute little bounce with knees, or sways her head back and forth)…these are our favorite moments. Even though she wants to crawl away to explore the electrical outlets she will crawl back and lay her head on my knee or shoulder….giving me a few seconds of heaven.

fabulous morning hair

This morning we burst into Lily’s room shouting “Happy Birthday!” We brought in a single pink balloon and took some pictures to mark this wonderful day. We are going to make this a tradition adding a balloon each year to match the age. What a fun way to wake up on your birthday!!

So today we are going to soak up every minute of her first birthday. To end a year of firsts we are taking her to the Tampa Zoo for the first time (if weather permits!).  Tomorrow is the first birthday party I will throw my daughter and I am tickled over how cute things are turning out…the planner in me started setting up on Monday…yes I am crazy, I know.

To read about Lily’s birth check it out here.

 
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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    June 22, 2012 Reply

    Happy Birthday to Lily! I love that first pic….it just makes me melt. It does go by so fast. My daughter will be 5 in December (gulp) and I look at her sometimes already and just want to cry!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 23, 2012 Reply

      Elizabeth- Mike and I both had these teary moments throughout the entire day! I’m sure I will blink and she will be as old as your precious girl!

  2. mckay commented:
    June 22, 2012 Reply

    love the balloon idea! happy happy birthday sweet lily! see you tomorrow. :)

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 23, 2012 Reply

      thanks love! BTW totally didn’t change our playgroup setup! I’d like to try and keep the kids corralled! See you tomorrow!

  3. Linda Young commented:
    June 22, 2012 Reply

    Amy, when the boys were small I’d sneak in during the night and tack balloons and streamers across their ceiling, so they’d wake up to a birthday surprise. Now, since they stay up MUCH later than me, I dump laundry baskets of balloons on their beds early (when they are still sleeping). They still want the morning surprise, even at their ages!
    Happy Birthday to Lily!
    Love,
    Aunt Linda

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 23, 2012 Reply

      Aunt Ninny- that is awesome!!! Great tips especially for when she becomes a teen! xoxo

  4. Kimberly commented:
    June 22, 2012 Reply

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET GIRL! It’s been so much fun watching her grow and learn, and watching us grow and learn along the way! You are an amazing mommy and I’m so proud of you and Mike. Looking forward to the party tomorrow! xoxo

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 23, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Lady! Can’t believe are babies are turning into toddlers!?! See you tomorrow! xo

  5. Nana & Papa commented:
    June 22, 2012 Reply

    Nothing can compare to the birth of your child, and the first year is truly a whirlwind! If only Lily could know how much love she has brought into so many lives. May the Lord continue to bless you three…..

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 23, 2012 Reply

      Thank you so much Nana & Papa for the sweet words! Love and miss you both!xoxo

  6. Diane commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    How sweet! The first year really does just fly by, and I’m sorry to say it doesn’t get much better after that! My little guy just turned 2 and I’m still in disbelief. But really that first year is so special! I love the balloon for their birthday morning idea. Cute!

One Trackback

  1. […] {We continued the tradition from last year and brought in balloons matching her age on her birthday. See last year’spics here) […]

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This s%!t is bananas…

In my house we are crazy for banana anything! A regular peeled banana, banana cream pie, banana foster, banana pudding, peanut butter and banana sandwich…I think you get the picture. One of my all time favorites is banana bread and there are so many recipes out there. I have tried almost every one, but this recipe is my favorite.

There are pecans in this recipe BUT you can make it without them! Recently I made muffins and omitted the nuts and Lily loved them! You can make this recipe with or without nuts, as bread or as muffins…whatever your little baking heart desires!

Enjoy!

Banana Bread

1 ¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
4 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cup flour
½ cup butter
½ tsp salt
1 cup mashed ripened banana (I use 3)
½ chopped pecans (sometimes I use ¼, depends on how nutty I feel!)

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and apply cooking spray to your bread pan.
-In a small bowl dissolve your baking soda into the sour cream.
-In a larger bowl cream butter, sugar- then add eggs & sour cream mixture.
-Add bananas, flour, salt and vanilla.
-Fold in pecans.
-Pour into pan and bake for 50 minutes, 18-20 for muffins. Put on a rack to cool.

*You can always use those disposable foil pans to cook and store the bread in and just cover the top with plastic wrap or foil. Or you can be ghettto fabulous like me, wrapping the bread in foil a few times and leaving it on the counter for the picking!*

 
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  1. Courtney Hill commented:
    June 21, 2012 Reply

    Lily is the cutest thing in the world!!

  2. Diane commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    We love banana bread too! I’ve been making it since I was in high school! I have a recipe that I love but I may have to try yours. Thanks for sharing!

    • Diane commented:
      June 28, 2012 Reply

      Ok, just saw your heading for this post – hilarious!

  3. Eve commented:
    April 15, 2016 Reply

    How could any of this be better stated? It cou’ndlt.

One Trackback

  1. By Lily & Bliss | Tip Tuesday: How NOT To Store Bananas on October 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    […] DIY projects and recipes (try #pinterestfail). And if you want a delicious banana bread recipe try this one it’s my favorite!   Post on Facebook Tweet This Pin […]

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Making Life easier: The junk drawer

 

Be honest we all have a junk drawer. You know the drawer that you never open in front of friends or guests for fear that an explosion of coupons, pens, rubber bands, stamps, hair clips and mail pop out and then you can’t close it without having to use one hand to push the crap back in!?! My kitchen has one and yesterday I performed my monthly junk drawer cleanse.

There is no greater feeling than to have my house in order. Sadly it’s rare that every room is organized at the same time. Every two weeks we have our house cleaned…yes I have a maid…{gasp}… a stay at home mom has a maid?? Yes and she is worth every penny. Prior to having a maid and Lily, Mike and I reserved our Saturday mornings to cleaning. After some time we were tired of wasting those precious weekend hours scrubbing and dusting so we hired a maid to enjoy our time off from work. Maybe when Lily gets older and I don’t have a baby on my hip, I will take over those responsibilities, but for now it’s a sanity necessity.

Back to the junk drawer. I set aside time each week to organize an area of the house. The laundry room can be flooded with junk found in pants, buttons, clothes still waiting to be hand washed (I try not purchase these type of clothes for this reason!), shoes and so forth. The bathroom cabinets need to be cleared of old prescriptions, empty product bottles, hair accessories like rubber bands and clips need to be grouped back together. My kitchen junk drawer is stocked with pens, note paper, coupons, receipts, a lighter for candles, Bentley’s heartworm medication and numerous other items.  For my monthly cleanse I do the following:

  1. Take out all the items. You never know what is hiding in your junk unless you go through every piece. Case in point my speeding ticket. Last night I discovered the hidden ticket and the reminder to complete online traffic school hiding under my coupon case….and yesterday was the last day to complete it!
  2. Wipe down the drawer. Start the purge with a clean slate. Even if you think it’s clean you would be surprised what a wet paper towel will reveal.
  3. Create specific piles for sorting. I have a trash stack, coupon pile, area for pens and a place for mail. Sorting your belongings only makes it easier to weed out the trash and organize the leftover items.
  4. Toss the trash. A rule of thumb my mom always taught me was if you have not used an item in the last 6 months throw it away. Your junk drawer should hold items that you need/use frequently.  Go through your coupons for expired dates. Glance over receipts and see if you are passed the period for returns or exchanges. Chances are if you’ve lapsed the 30 or 60 day window for returns or exchanges the store won’t honor it. I found a receipt for a chicken salad from Pei Wei (a favorite) and I’m positive I won’t return the fortune cookie because I didn’t agree with the words of wisdom (BUT funny how those little pieces of paper speak to some area of your life!).
  5. Have storage containers. What is the purpose of cleaning out your junk if all of the items will just jumble altogether when you put them back in the drawer? I have a small plastic container for all my pens. An old iron candle tray for miscellaneous items. All my receipts and coupons are individually grouped in labeled Ziploc bags and then placed in a free fabric diaper/wipe case given to me when I registered at Babies-R-Us (score!). I take sandwich sized Ziploc bags and label them with the store name with a sharpie. Now if you have a nifty label machine- I’m a little jealous! Since Sharpies can smear when first applied to plastic bags, I apply a piece of tape. I write on the tape and then apply another piece of tape on top so I don’t have to worry about smearing the perma ink on my fingers! I have bags for Carter’s, Babies-R-Us, JoAnn Fabric, and BJ’s(like a Costco). You can also make a misc. bag for stores you don’t frequently visit. I also have a separate bag for gift cards. Gift cards are FREE money people, knowing exactly where they are is a lesson I have had to learn far too many times, like when I misplaced a loaded Nordstrom’s card…whomp whomp! There is a bag just for business cards as well. I keep the most important ones(like Lily’s pediatrician) in my wallet, however; I like to have a copy at home for those just in case moments. Really important cards(closest urgent care & after hour hotlines) are taped inside the cabinet above our phone. Cards for the dog groomer, lawn service and pool guy stay at home in this bag for organization of the drawer and my wallet(business cards start to pile up and can keep me from zipping my wallet shut!)!
  6. Placement of items. When you finally tossed the trash and organized the remaining items it is time to put them pack in the drawer. I am obsessed with making lists, even lists for lists! For this reason I have my pens and note pads in the front of the drawer. Candles are always lit in my house, so the lighter is up front too! In the back I have the iron tray with scissors, tape and Bentley’s once a month heartworm medication.

And that’s it! It only takes once a month- totally doable! The time it takes to clean will be considerably smaller than if you wait every 6 months. You never know what great coupon deals you have hidden, restaurants gift cards you forgot about or even the traffic school reminder! So go take 15 minutes and clean people…that way you won’t be afraid to open that drawer in front of people!

 
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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    June 20, 2012 Reply

    Great tips! I put my receipts in envelopes :)

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 22, 2012 Reply

      Thanks and my husband puts his in envelopes too!

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Showering the dads with love and stuffed taco shells

Father’s day is here and I finally found a gift for Mr. Impossible! After a fun beach vacation on Hilton Head Island, Mike was yearning for new boat shoes. With a sale at Dillards, Mike now has Sperry’s Original 2-eyed Salt Stained Boat Shoes sitting pretty in his closet! We picked them up a day early and he has worn them for two days straight.

Today we spoiled Mike and my father with some TLC and tasty stuffed taco shells for lunch. My parents live only five minutes away so we get to see them often. Showering my father with love and appreciation brings me bliss. He is a great man. He has a work ethic like no other and because of that he traveled for much of my childhood. I know it killed him inside to be away so much, as I see it now in Mike’s eyes when he leaves for his work trips. Now as a mother and a wife to a traveling salesman I admire my father for his strong work ethic and have gratitude for his sacrifices. Thank you Dad. I love you.

Now about those tasty stuffed taco shells- I found this excellent recipe on Pinterest, which lead me to the fabulous Buns in My Oven blog. There are some great dishes on that site and this one has become a regular on the dinner table! I love this recipe so much I doubled it today and made three freezer meals along with plenty for lunch!

Freezer meals are a life savor on those days you refuse to cook and want to spend more time playing with the family. I use the 8×8 Hefty EZ Foil cake pans that have covers that way I can split recipes into two meals. After I have placed the meal in the container I take a sharpie to the top with the oven temperature and cooking time.  I also take it a step further and wrap it in foil and again mark the top with cooking instructions.

my freezer pans

Look how much it makes if you double the recipe!

Enjoy!

Stuffed Taco Shells

Adapted from Buns in My Oven

1 pound of jumbo shells
1 pound lean ground beef (this would taste great with turkey too!)
1 taco packet seasoning – reduced sodium kind
¼ cup water
4 oz. light cream cheese
1 can corn (no salt added kind)
4 oz. green chiles
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded monterey cheese
1 cup of salsa
garnish: cilantro

-Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray your 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
-Cook your pasta shells as directed on the box minus one minute.
-Brown your ground beef in a pan and drain the fat.
-Add the seasoning packet and water and simmer for 2 minutes.
-Stir in the cream cheese until completely melted.
-Stir in the green chiles and corn.
-Remove mixture from heat from assembly.
-Pour and spread your salsa on the bottom of your 9×13 dish.
-Spoon meat mixture into your shells and place on top of the salsa.
-Sprinkle each shell with a mixture of both cheeses.
-Bake for 20 minutes.
-Before serving you can garnish with cilantro.

 
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  1. Courtney commented:
    June 18, 2012 Reply

    Yum! I’m going to have to try that recipe! I love easy meals that you can freeze!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 18, 2012 Reply

      Courtney it was so simple and makes two meals- an added bonus!

  2. Elizabeth commented:
    June 18, 2012 Reply

    I love meals that you can freeze too! We do this and it simplifies dinner so much! Off to check out the source….thanks!

  3. Emily Ley commented:
    June 19, 2012 Reply

    I’m making this tonight off your recipe!!!!! : )

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 19, 2012 Reply

      Let me know how it turns out Em! Oh and thanks for lending me your paper cutter;) Enjoy your fabulous Sonoma vacay xoxo

  4. Erin Paris commented:
    June 28, 2012 Reply

    Amy – great blog. you are so creative. i have a really dumb question about this recipe… do you only bake it when you are ready to eat it or do you bake it and then freeze it and then heat it up when you are going to eat it. if you cant tell i’m not a huge cook haha

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 28, 2012 Reply

      Thanks Erin!! Not a silly question- you bake it only when you are ready to eat it. If you are going to freeze it, just place it in the fridge the night before to thaw for the next nights dinner! I hope you enjoy it 😉

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Life’s soundtrack: tunes for the gym

Back from our family reunion in Hilton Head Island and now it’s time to shed those pounds from all the fun in the sun! Working out without tunes is impossible.  Music get’s my booty moving and keeps me focused on pushing through cardio. Boredom comes easily with the same songs, so my playlist changes all the time! This is what I will be listening to while I work off those ice cold beers and grilled hamburgers!

Ellie Goulding “Starry Eyed”
LMFAO “Sexy And I Know It”
Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe”
Florida “Good Feeling”
Mary J Blige “ Just Fine”
T.I “Live Your Life”
The Veronicas “Untouched”
Usher “OMG”
DJ Earworm “Like OMG, Baby”
Gwen Stefani “Hollaback Girl”
Bob Marley “Sun Is Shining”- club mix
Jessie J “Domino”
David Guetta feat. Sia “Titanium”
David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj “Turn me on”
Nicki Minaj “Starships”
Kat Graham “Put Your Graffiti On Me”
Cher Lloyd “Want U Back”
Pitbull “Give Me Everything”

What song gets you motivated in the gym?

 
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Visit Greece, Go whale watching & learn to meditate

Countless times Mike and I will say “Maybe one day,” or “before I die we MUST do this!” A while back I saw a dreamy picture on Pinterest of an empty hammock floating over crystal clear knee-deep water and repeated “Maybe one day!” That prompted Mike and me to create a bucket list of the various places and activities we dream of going and doing.

Mike once told me that when you write something down you are more likely to accomplish that task. I am a queen at list making and I do believe there is a truth to that statement. Creating a to do list for the week, weekend, trip or party can be daunting when it comes clear how much you have to do. Now creating a bucket list with Mike was so entertaining and therapeutic in a way. Since having Lily life has flown by and often we are in bed at 8:30-9, leaving little to no time to discuss new future goals and dreams.

So we cuddled on the couch and started to dream of the places we still want to visit. Places we want to take Lily. Personal goals. There was no ceiling to the list. Will we be able to accomplish everything on our massive list? Who knows. You never know what lies ahead so placing any kind of limit to a bucket list might keep you from one day reaching a dream.

While making our list we recognized that some items had already been accomplished.  Skydiving is a working example. I never envisioned myself having the nerve to make the plunge, but I knew I wanted to do it. And then Mike walked into my life and gave me the spirit to jump. IT WAS AMAZING.

So go make your list, set no boundaries and have fun with it!

 
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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    June 13, 2012 Reply

    What a fun list! And it’s cute too! Do you do that in Photoshop? My friend just convinced me to do a mud run with her in August. I’m excited for the challenge!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      June 13, 2012 Reply

      I created it in Illustrator! LOVE mud runs- haven’t done it myself, but it looks like a blast. Post pictures on your blog when you do it, I would love to see them;)

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Making life easier: the iphone tip

Have you ever heard of the tip about making a speaker out of a glass cup? It is genius! I am often jamming out to Pandora while I am cleaning, folding clothes, or getting ready and this tip gives your phone a boost in volume! Place your iphone (I would imagine this would also work for other phones too!) in a glass cup while you play your music and enjoy the surround sound effect! You can use more than just a glass cup, try a ceramic bowl or anything that creates a base for the sound to bounce off of.

On walks I don’t wear my ipod buds for fear I won’t hear Lily scream if she gets upset.….I…uh…actually know this from experience- whoops! First time parent right here! I started to play Pandora on our walks to make it more enjoyable. So I placed my iphone in the stroller’s cup holder and viola- I had surround sound!!

So next time you are on a walk or find yourself in a hotel room with no docking station just remember this DIY surround sound tip!

 
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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    June 13, 2012 Reply

    I saw this on Pinterest too and it totally works. In fact, my daughter will now remind me to put it in a cup!

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