Monday, January 31, 2011

DIY Wainscoting

When we built our home a few years ago, we tried to include as many upgrades as we could that made sense and were worth the investment.  Most importantly, we wanted to make sure that the upgrades were structural improvements, improvments that we knew could not be added later. For example, the original floor plan of our home was only a three bedroom, however, we knew that not only would adding a fourth bedroom give us additional space, it would increase the resale value of our home. We also added additional closet space and upgraded a few others items that were important to us. One thing that I have always wanted in a home but decided against upgrading when we were designing our home was wainscoting in the dining room. I love the look of wainscoting, however, this type of additional contractor work really spiked up the price of our home. So we decided it was one of those projects we could put on the back burner for a cold, Winter weekend.

A year later after looking through several of our builders models, I realized that perhpas we should talk to our builder about adding wainscoting to our dining room. At that time, the economy had taken a turn for the worse and they weren't building as many new homes in our neighborhood as they had been in previous years.  We were hoping that they had a carpenter that could use a few extra projects since building homes were at a much slower pace.  So we contacted one of our builder's Amish carpenters and invited him over to do an estimate on how much it would cost to add wainscoting to our dining room. I never realized until then just how easy it was to add wainscoting to a room. Doing your own wainscoting is really a fairly simple task in many instances. The cost is also within most budgets if you do it wisely. Have you ever taken a close up look at wainscoting before? It's escentially just wooden picture frames nailed into the wall with tiny wood nails.  The space between the chair rail and the wood trim is just painted white.  I wanted to share with you how we completed our own DIY wainscoting project with a little help, of course!

We were very fortunate that a chair rail was already a standard feature in the dining room. All we needed was for someone to measure the dining room, create the wooden picture frames and then symmetrically place them around the room under the chair rail.

The first step is to measure the wall sections you would need to cover. Determine frame sizes and the distance between, above, and below them. Our Dining Room measures 12' x 12'4". We used 3.5 inches above the moulding and 3.5 inches below the chair rail.  We also consistently placed the frames 3.5 inches apart. The important thing is to be consistent throughout with these measurements, however, frame sizes can vary in width but not height. Along the wall, our frames measured 22 inches high. The frames underneath the windows measured 9 inches high.

Once the carpenter nailed all of the wooden frames into the wall, the rest was up to us.  Fortunately, the builder had left us an extra can of trim paint from the building process.   All we had to do was buy another can of paint to paint the dry wall and wooden frames inbetween the chair rail and the moulding.  Our builder paints the trim and moulding all of it's homes using Sherwin Williams Creamy in a semi gloss. 

Don't let the name of the paint fool you, the paint is essentially white, just not a stark white.  It's a very soothing color and the semi gloss makes it very easy for me to wipe down our base boards with just a rag soaked in water and vinegar. 

After two coats of paint, the room was complete!!! 

This is how the Dining Room looks today, it's one of the more unfinished rooms in our home and is on my radar for rooms to paint in 2011.  I am hoping to paint it a bluish grey color to go with the blue grey silk drapes in our living room.  I would also love a new dining room set eventually but that may have to be a purchase for another year unless I can find a great deal.  For now, we are still using the dining table and chairs I had bought for my apartment when I was a single gal.  

Linking up to these fun parties!!!

Linking up to Decorchick's Molding Party!!

Linking up over Inspiration Friday At The Picket Fence!

and at and the Boring to Better party at Savvy Southern Style!

Savvy Southern Style

and at and the Flaunt it Friday at Chic on a Shoestring

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

and at Metamorphisis Monday over at Between Naps on the Porch

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Weekend Recap

We had a fun weekend here at Karen At Home, but oh my lord, was it cold!!!!! Cabin fever is really starting to quickly kick into high gear around here and it's only the end of January. It is going to be a long winter I have a feeling!!!!

On Friday, I met up with my bloggy friend Heather from Life As I Know It blog. I use the term "bloggy" losely because Heather and I actually became friends before one another even knew we both shared an interest in blogging.

Heather and I met through our mutual friend, Andrea, at their neighborhood clam bake. Heather and I were both pregnant and due with our little girls within one month of each other. Heather and I had a lot to talk about at the party and we became fast friends. I am not quite sure how we came across each other blogs a few months later but I am so glad that we did.  Heather and I met at where else, but Chick Fil A for lunch. I am telling you, I don't know how I ever survived without Chick-Fil-A in my life before.  It is the perfect place to meet up with other Mom's.  Friday was actually our first sunny day in a VERY long time and I think every Mom in the area wanted to get out of the house.  Apparently they all decided to have lunch at Chick-Fil-A so it was a complete mad house trying to find a seat. Luckily, Heather and I found one of the last seats and grabbed the last of the high chairs for the girls. After we ate, we thought about having the girls play together in the play area, however, it was full of screaming kids a lot older than the girls and we certainly didn't want them to get trampled. So we did what any rational Mom would do, we decided to take the girls to Target instead!!!  It was a great way to spend a rare sunny January afternoon in Cleveland, I hope Heather had as fun as I did!!

On Saturday, Jeff and I got to enjoy a fun night out together at his company's Winter Event. The event was held at The Cleveland Browns Stadium and we had such a great time together just the two of us.

The event was also a casino night so we were happy to be able to brush off our black jack skills and play a few hands with his co-workers. Unfortunately, we didn't win but had a great time. It was nice to be able to get actually get dressed up and have a nice evening out downtown.  The Cleveland Browns were also nice enough to open up a few sections of the stadium for us to explore, however, it was FOUR degrees outside that night so we didn't get to enjoy the view all that long.  You can see in the picture about all the snow in my hair, it was really coming down and we ended up having to drive home in a blizzard!
Here is the field, all covered in snow. It looks so different from this perspective!!! It was so peaceful!!!! Such a different perspective from the rowdy NFL football games that we are used to!!!!

On Sunday, the cold temperatures continued so we had to take our sledding indoors.   A sled ride around the dining room didn't seem to phase Jillian though. 

We spent the rest of the day getting caught up on chores, watched some football, and enjoyed relaxing at home.  I hope you all had a great weekend too!

Don't forget to enter my $25 Target Giftcard Giveaway!!! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Target Gift Card Giveaway!

Wow, I can't believe I have over 400 followers! In means so much to me that you would take the time to read our blog and share along in our lives. I read every one of your comments and am truly blessed to be a part of such a great blogging community!!! In honor of the 400th follower to my blog, I have decided to have another Target card giveaway! What girl wouldn't love an extra $25 to spend on your next Target shopping trip? I know I would.

Here is what you need to do to enter:

Leave me a comment and tell me how you found my blog!! It's as easy as that!
You can earn additional entries by doing the following:

1. For one additional entry, leave a separate comment letting me know you have become a follower of our blog or that you are already following our blog.
2. For a second entry, follow me on Twitter - Click on the Twitter icon on the right hand side of my blog.
3. For a third entry, leave a separate comment letting me know you blogged about the giveaway. Please make sure to leave the link to your blog post or the entry will not be accepted.
4. For a fourth entry, Grab My Blog Button and post it to your blog!!!
5. For a fifth entry, please click on the 'Like' button found on the 'Like Us on Facebook!' box on the right hand side of my blog.

For each entry, leave a separate comment - & don't forget to leave your email address! This Giveaway ends Sunday, January 30th at 11pmEST. A winner will be drawn by and posted on Tuesday, February 1st (open to US Residents Only).
Good luck!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jillian is 12 months old

It's so hard to believe as I write this that my baby girl is 12 months old!  I have a one year old! It's so surreal to believe sometimes.  For years and years I prayed to God to even be pregnant and now my daughter is one years old. A toddler even!!!! It has been such a fun and challenging year for me adjustING to motherhood.  It was a lot harder than I had ever imagined, but I would never change it for anything.

This was our last picture session with the monthly onesie stickers from Picky Sticky. I am so glad that I ordered these!!! Certainly one of my most favorite baby items that I had purchased.  I am not quite sure how I will handle the next coming months when it comes to our monthly photo shoots.  Having her sit in the chair in her room is definitely out. She almost fell out of that thing so many times during our photo shoot that I almost dropped my camera just to catch her. Perhaps this will challenge me now to get creative with her outfits and change up the picture locale a bit.

Jillian is still a great sleeper although every now and then we will encounter a few nights where she will wake up at night for no apparent reason. I really wish they could tell you what was wrong, especially in the middle of the night!!! I try everything to make her happy.  Change her diaper, offer her a drink of water in the sippy cup, make sure she isn't running a fever or has any ear drainage.  After an hour of crying, I am finally able to go back to bed still completely confused as to why she woke up in the first place. Fortunately these kinds of evenings are very far and few between. Our bedtime routine has been very consistent lately too. We head up to bed around 7:45pm and give Jillian a bath. Around 8:15pm she gets a 2 oz bottle although she never really drinks much of it. We are just about done with our bedtime bottles which is nice.  After the bottle, we read a book, and then we place her in her crib by 8:30pm.  On occasion, she will sometimes even whine and reach for her crib as if she WANTS to go to sleep!  We are trying to get in the habit of calling our bedtime routine "Night Night Time". We think she gets it because there are nights when we tell her it's "Night Night Time" and she starts fussing and whining because she is not ready for bed yet.  Jillian is always awake now when we place her down. Who would have ever thought!!!  To this day I still singing the praises of letting her cry it out.  She is such a different sleeper now.  She really did need our help.  We always make sure we have three pacifiers waiting for her in her crib. One for her mouth and two for her to hold. What can we say, she is a paci girl.  I am just dreading the day that we eventually have to wean her from the paci considering now she needs some to hold and suck on!!!!  On occasion, Jillian has learned that if she throws all of her paci's out of her crib, Mommy or Daddy will come in to her room and get them for her. She has tried to do that a few times with us. It got to a point where we had to let her cry a bit and go to sleep without her paci's.  That was after a night we must had gone into her room on four separate occasions to retrieve her paci's. We would leave the room and watch her from the monitor throw her paci's out of her crib again and again and then stare at the door and cry. Hopefully she won't try that too often or weaning her off the paci's might come sooner than we thought.  Jillian has been waking up at 8am lately which has also been wonderful.  Let's hope that becomes the norm!  On Wednesday and Thursdays, we have to wake her up around 6:30am for daycare.  Poor thing, breaks my heart every time, thankfully it is only 2 days a week.

Jillian has four teeth now, two on the top, and two on the bottom. At her 12 month appointment this week, her doctor mentioned that she has four more teeth coming in on each side of her existing teeth. So lots of fun times ahead of us!!! I have noticed that lately Jillian is really learning to use the four teeth that she has. I no longer have to break up yogurt melts, goldfish crackers or puffs for her to eat. She chews them into small pieces herself and I have no worries about her choking on them.

Jillian is still a very picky eater! We have had a lot challenges in this area and it's become a person goal of mine to try to get her to successfully eat more table food. I am not 100% certain but it seems like the stomach flu she had back in December really contributed to a lot of her pickiness. It seemed like that was the turning point with her and things have not gotten any better. She refuses to eat any kind of pasta or vegetable. She will eat her baby food veggies just fine so it's not a taste issue, it's the texture. I used to just give up and open up a tub of baby food so she could at least get some veggies in her. No more! I have gotten smart and decided to try coating everything in applesauce. It seems to actually be working. She now eats macaroni and cheese, broccoli, and carrots, although they are soaked in applesauce. At least she is now getting more nourishment and calories and I am no longer giving up and just giving her baby food. Every now and then I can sneak a piece of mac in cheese in her without any applesauce so some progress is being made with this method. Jillian's favorite meal is either grilled cheese or chicken nuggets. She also loves eating pancakes, waffles, and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls for breakfast. She loves her breads, that is for sure!!! Jillian still hums all the time when she eats, it's so adorable. It's one of my most favorite noises that she makes. I love to just sit and listen to her enjoy a meal. She sounds truly happy.

Jillian is still only saying Momma although she seems to understand mostly everything that we tell her. She loves to wave at EVERYTHING. She waves at her toys, her stuffed animals, even the balloons from her birthday party. We can never enter a room without her waving at everything.  It's hilarious. She is also starting to understand when someone is leaving the house. She recognizes that when Jeff puts his coat on in the morning, he is leaving for work, and she starts to fuss a bit. Jillian is still experiencing a bit of separation anxiety when we drop her off to daycare in the mornings. I think it has a lot to do with it is the new room that she is in. I don't think she dislikes it, she just hasn't gotten used to it yet. If I arrive to daycare early enough in the morning, I have to drop her off in her old room and she doesn't make a peep. She is as happy as can be to go to her old teachers. Hopefully she will get used the change soon.

Jillian started playing peek-a-boo on Christmas Eve.  It was so cute, I don't even know where she picked it up from because we hadn't even tried it with her yet. We put her in her carseat to head home that night and she took the blanket that was draped across her lap, lifted it over head, then brought it down very quickly and smiled. It was so cute. So after a few more times we realized what she was doing and that is how peek-a-boo with Jillian began!!!!

Jillian isn't walking yet but she furniture walks and loves using her new walker. She gets the cutest look on her face as she is pushing her walker around the house. You can tell that she knows what she is doing is a big deal. It's adorable! Speaking of toys, our house has shrunk considerably since Christmas and her Birthday. Jillian is so lucky to have so many generous people in her life.  She has so many toys, it's hard to know what to do with them all. I have tried to divide them up into three areas of our house and plan on rotating them from the different rooms to create some kind of variety. I have toys right now in the great room, the den, and her bedroom. She is one lucky little girl!!!! Her favorite toys right now are the Playskool Ball Popper, Fisher Price Kitchen and Little People. She also loves the Fisher Price plastic rings we bought her and loves to hold them in her hands and crawl all over the house with them. She also loves to toss them and then crawl to retrieve them. Jillian is such a strong crawler and is constantly following me all around the house. She especially loves to follow me into the laundry room even though the wash machine sometimes scares her. She also loves to crawl up to you and butt her head against our leg. This means that she wants you to pick her up. Jeff and I joke that all of our pant legs have "boog" marks on them from Jillian constantly head butting our pants legs.  It's super cute, even the boog marks!

Jillian's 12 Month Stats:

Weight: 18 pounds even.  She is only in the 5th percentile in weight. This is starting to concern us and the doctor too. I am sure a lot of it has to do with her being such a picky eater. Hopefully with my new "applesauce with everything" method will turn her around and she will start gaining weight. I have also been recently trying to transition her to milk by putting some in her bottle with the formula, however, the doctor said she wants her to stay on formula for another month since it should help her gain more weight.  So another month of bottles and formula.  She is such a little peanut!!!!! We have an appointment to go back to the doctor for a weight check in a month. Her head is 17 3/4 inches (50th percentile).

Clothing: Jillian is still in 9 month Carter's clothes although she is starting to grow out of them. Her 9 month pajamas are pretty much done, she is only wearing 12 month jammies now.  It feels like she has been in nine month clothes forever.

Height: is 29 inches (25th percentile).

Favorite Toys: Fisher Price Rings, Playskool Ball Popper, Fisher Price Kitchen, Fisher Price Laugh and Learn table, and Little People sets.

Favorite Book: The Ten Little Ladybugs

Favorite Past Time: Bath time

Communication: Waving hello and good bye to everything, says "Ah!", says "Mama", giggle and laughs.

Bedtime: 8:30pm

It's been an amazing year with my sweet girl.  As much as I want her to stay the little baby that she is, I am really looking forward to seeing her walk and grow into the role of an active toddler.  She is such a blessing to us, we praise God every day for allowing us to be her parents. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

10 Steps to Larger Blog Photos

One of the biggest, if not THE biggest, must have that I had when working with Shannon to design a new blog template was to have a very large posting area perfect to post larger than normal pictures. I had found myself recently drawn to blogs with large pictures in their posts . I am a very visual person, and perhaps a little nosy, and love to look at every one's large blog pictures. I tried playing with the HTML code generated by Blogger's standard picture uploader, however,  all that did was blur out my photos. I knew there had to be a way to do this that I simply was not aware of.  I started asking around to my bloggy friends and also Googled everything there was to know about how to make my blog pictures bigger. I already had my new SLR camera, now all I needed was a new blog template with a larger posting area and some easy how-to tips on how I could make this possible. I finally found a process that worked for me and wanted to share it all with you.

We will use the picture below as my example. We have all seen it on my blog before, my pride and joy, my sunburst mirror.  I uploaded this picture to my blog from my computer using Blogger's standard picture uploader. I did this to show you the difference of uploading a picture using Blogger's standard uploader compared to the new way that I am going to demonstrate to you. The current dimensions of this photo using the standard uploader is 268 height by 400 width.

What you need to do to make your photos larger

1. Find a picture. Whether it's on a standard digital camera, camera phone, or SLR camera, this process can and will work with any digital camera.  Upload the picture to your computer.

2. Now upload your photo from your computer to This is a free image hosting and photo sharing website.  Click on the 'Upload Now' button.


3. Click on the 'Save and continue to my album' link in blue.  Then click on the picture that you would like to edit.


4. Your photo will now pop up. You then want to drag your cursor along the top of the photo. A tool bar will pop up. Select edit. The editing tool is where you will change the size of your photo.


5. In order to make the appropriate size adjustment to your photo, you will need to know the size of your posting area, or in blogger HTML code terms, your Main Wrapper. You can find the  size of your Main Wrapper by going to the 'Design' tab located in your Blog dashboard.  Click on the 'Edit HTML' link and scroll down until you find the Main Wrapper Section.  You can see from my blog's HTML that the Main Wrapper size is 600px.  This is the maximum size that your posting area can support.


6. Go back to Photobucket now and edit the size of your picture. I chose the 600 x 402 option since 600px is the maximum size of my posting area.  There are also preset sizes, the 640 x 480 preset size also works for me.  Now hit the 'Appy' Button on the right of the screen and then the 'Replace Original' button on the bottom of your screen. 


7. After hitting the 'Replace Original' button, you will be brought back to a screen with your new picture. There is also a 'Share This Photo' box to the right of your photo. This is where your new HTML code is located already coded with your new picture size.


8. Click on the html line, you will notice that just by clicking on the HTML line it will flash yellow and then say 'Copied'. This means your HTML code is copied.

9. Go to your post and paste the HTML code into your post.  You will need to be in the 'Edit HTML' function while you are creating your post.  Place your cursor in the body of your post where you want your picture to show up. Hit the keys Ctrl AND V at the same time and your HTML code will be pasted into your post.


10. Here is our new picture edited to the 600 x 402 size.


Enjoy!!! I love sharing Blogging tips so please feel free to share yours with me anytime!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Look for A New Year


I am sure you have noticed a new look around here.  I have received so many compliments already and it has only been up for a few weeks. My friend Shannon was kind enough to give me a more of an every day look after the amazing job that she did on my holiday blog design.  If you have been kicking around the idea of a new design for your blog, I highly recommend Shannon.  She was so extremely patient with me and also put up with my control-freakish personality while working on the new blog design! Shannon is extremely creative, talented, sweet, and kind!! I honestly don't think she ever sleeps, I received so many emails from her at all hours of the night. I just don't know how she does it while trying to take care of an adorable toddler. She is amazing! Thank You Shannon for once again making my blog look so pretty!!

Speaking of new looks, I realized recently that I have become "that" Mom who has let herself go a bit and I do not like her one bit. I always, always, always would say that it wouldn't never happened to me, and well, it has. I don't take care of myself like I used to and I really do need to make a few changes. So for the new year, I am challenging myself to make a few changes in my life. I did manage to lose a few pounds before the holidays with the help of the South Beach Diet, however, need to get back to it starting Monday to lose a few more.  Nothing major, just a few so I can feel a little better about myself and finally fit into a few more pre-pregnancy pants that seem to be collecting dust in my closet.  I haven't bought any new pants since having Jillian simply because I am determined to fit back into the old ones. I am also determined to go back to the gym. I am fortunate enough to work for a company that has a full service gym inside of our building, however, I need to make an effort to actually go!!! My lunch hours are so much more precious now as a Mom than they ever used to be.   I find myself running errands on my lunch hour and taking advantage of my time without having to drag around a baby.  My goal is to at least hit the gym two of the three days that I work and leave myself one day to run errands. Seems like a good plan to me, let's see if I can implement it!!!!

In an effort of trying to improve myself, I have been also on the hunt for a new foundation and moisturizer. If you use one that you absolutely love, please let me know! I am open to suggestions!!  I have been researching mineral based foundations for more coverage so I am very curious about them in particular. 

As for a moisturizer, this Mommy is not getting any younger, and I need to get a little more serious with my moisturizer. I am really looking for one that smooths out your skins texture while fighting wrinkles.  I also seriously need to start waking up earlier and doing my hair again.  I swear all I wear is pony tails lately.  Why is it that your hair always seems to be the last priority as a Mom?  That always seems to be the first thing I eliminate if I am cruched for time because it is so easy just to put it up in a pony tail.  I find myself hitting snooze more often in the morning when I really should be getting up earlier for work and doing my hair.  As I am laying in bed, those extra minutes of sleep seem so precious, however, when I am actually sitting at my desk at work, I curse myself on being so lazy.  It's a vicious cycle with me lately and I need to end it. 

Speaking of beauty, I had a fun day of pampering at our MOPS meeting.  A local salon donated their services to our MOPS meeting today and did every ones nails, hair and make up.  It was so much fun and it was nice to have a morning of pampering!!!     I have been to two meetings so far and have really enjoyed myself.    So thank you Andrea for welcoming me to your group!!!!!

I am looking forward to relaxing this weekend and getting our house in order.  This is our first weekend since Christmas that we haven't had any major plans so I am looking forward to a quiet and relaxing weekend with my family.  I hope you all have a relaxing weekend too.  Stay warm!!!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jillian's First Birthday Party - The Birthday Girl


This birthday girl had so much fun at her party!!! Jillian is blessed with six girl cousins and had a great time hanging out with them. I felt like I barely saw her all day.  She was constantly being cuddled and passed around by her loving family or crawling after her cousins, trying to keep up with them. I am so glad my baby girl had such a great time. Since the party started at 3pm, an afternoon nap was just not on the agenda and she did great. Wasn't even cranky until the very end.


My friend Andrea picked up this beautiful birthday outfit at a children's boutique. I thought she looked absolutely precious in it. It was the perfect outfit just for her.

A family photo in front of the tree.


Jillian took a swipe at the smash cake the moment it was put in front of her but started fussing and whining as soon as her hand touched the frosting. I don't think my little girl liked having dirty hands.




I am so glad my sweet girl had a great birthday!! It was so much fun to plan such a special event for her. Hopefully she will look back one day at all of these photos and see how much she was loved by so many family and friends.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jillian's First Birthday Party - The Main Event

Even though I only had a few weeks to plan Jillian's First Birthday Party, I feel like it really did come together in the end.  I thought long and hard about the theme for her big day.  I thought of the typical pink and green theme, a princess theme, a cupcake theme, and I even found a cute pastel polka dot theme at our local party goods store.  In the end, I realized that I already had a built in party theme - Christmas!!!! I was all set to spend New Year's Day taking down our Christmas decorations when I realized that I already had the house pre-decorated for the party.  We had a real Christmas tree this year which probably needed to come down, but after a full inspection, it was still in pretty good shape to stay up for another week. I am sure in the future Jillian will be less than thrilled about incorporating her Birthday with Christmas so why not take advantage of it now?


One thing I had to have as part of the decor for Jillian's party was the tissue paper poms. I have seen these adorable pom's all over the internet for showers and birthday parties that I thougth I would take a stab at making them myself.  I am sure I have mentioned this before but I feel it certainly needs to be mentioned again.  I am NOT crafty. I am more of a pre-made, store bought kind of girl so the thought of me trying to make something on my own was a bit intimidating. Nothing like trying to start a big project right before the big event.  I asked a few of my bloggy friends about making these pom's and was reassured that they were easy.  And they were right!  My first one probably took around thirty minutes to make, but once I figured it out and got into a groove, I pounded out five more during one of Jillian's naps.

Look at how great they turned out!!!



Our house was designed with a very open floor plan which is great for parties, however, I realized from previous events that everyone always seems to gather around the kitchen island.  I wanted to create more flow to different areas of our main floor so I put together a dessert table.  The cake served as the center piece and I placed the smash cake, cookies, and white chocolate chex mix all around it. I also hung three of the tissue paper poms above the dessert table to really accent the area.


I bought Jillian's cake at our local Giant Eagle. They do an amazing job and are very easy to work with.  And, they also provided a free smash cake for first birthday's which I thought was really nice.


See how nice the smash cake looks? Well, this is the second one that we brought home.


I was responsible for picking up Jillian's cake right before the party and when I got home, this is what I found in the back of my SUV.


I was so mad at myself for not putting it in the front seat with me. I walked into our house completely in tears. I was mortified.  I think Jeff thought I was completely nuts for crying so much over a upside down smashed cake so he called Giant Eagle for me an hour before guests were supposed to arrive and ordered me another one.  I think all of the stress of party planning was really starting to get to me at that point and I melted down just like that cake did.  I am sure one day I will look back at this picture and laugh but for now, it's still hurts to look at her name all squished.

I found these Pillsbury Christmas cookies and thought they would be a nice touch to the Christmas themed dessert table.   They were so easy, you just place them on a cookie sheet and bake.  My kind of cookies!!! 


In our power room, I had a Christmas cookie candle burning and also set out a few Christmas hand towels.  I also placed picture frames all over the house with Jillian's monthly photos.  These were the same picture frames that I had used to name our guest tables at our wedding so it was special to be able to use them again.  


I had Jillian's gifts placed under and around the tree.  One great thing about having a Christmas tree in the house for a birthday party was that it was a perfect place for gifts.  No gift table necessary!!  I also had Jeff light our gas fireplace to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere.  Not to mention it was freezing cold that day!  We had received six inches of snow the night before the party and a few more inches in the hours leading up to the party.  Jeff had to shovel the drive way three times that day to clear a path for our guests!!


We had the party catered by Dino's Catering.  We use them all of the time for our big parties.  Their food is delicious and it also has a very special meaning to us.  They are the same caterer of the Pine Ridge Country Club where Jeff and I got married and had Jillian's baby shower.  It was also so nice not to have to worry about cooking food for a big group. Certainly a big time saver!!

I set up a beverage area in a corner area of our kitchen counter.  My Sister-In-Amanda bought me this adorable beverage tub for Christmas and it was perfect to hold all of our cold beverages.  I also bought the apothecary jar beverage for Jillian's Baptism several months ago and now use it for every party.  It's great to fill with lemons slices so everyone can easily help themselves.  I also purchased plastic cups decorated with holly leaves from our local party goods store.


I found these light up presents at our local mall this year and thought they looked adorable on our kitchen counter.  I think these are my new favorite Christmas decoration and can't wait to put them up again next year. 


In the end, I think everything turned out so well!!!!  It was certainly a crazy whirlwind these past few weeks trying to plan everything and take care of an active one year old.  I spent every lunch hour during the work week running to every store imaginable.  I was always on the hunt for clearance Christmas decor and Christmas themed party items.  The big day flew by so quickly and I know everyone had a great time.  Jillian is so blessed to have such a generous and loving family.  

Tomorrow I will share with you the beautiful guest of honor herself, having the time of her life!

Thank you for stopping by this weekend! I am linking up to Weekend Bloggy Reading with Amanda over at Serenity Now.

Weekend Bloggy Reading