BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants On Parade Party

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

Annnnnd I’m back! With something worthwhile to show for my blogging absence (aside from having a house that’s messy but still standing and a family that’s busy but still happy). Last week, I hosted a birthday party for our oldest, who is now a big four-year-old. In honor of his love of elephants — and his bonafide BIG-boy status — we held Owen’s Big Birthday Bash: Elephants on Parade.

It was a BIG hit. (He. He.)


BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I found so many baby shower or first birthday elephant party themes online, but nothing for older birthdays, so a lot of what I invented was a new frontier. The party’s color scheme was navy, light blue, light gray and white, with chevron and large polka dot accents.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I found a fabulous graphic design shop on Etsy, Paper Clever Party, to custom design the invitations, which I wrote the wording for:

Our BIG boy is turning 4
Wait ‘til you see what we’ve got in store!
Please join us for a TON of birthday fun
[Party time/date/location]
This party will be HUGE So don’t be a Scrooge
[RSVP details]

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

They also created matching water bottle wraps, favor tags, buffet cards and thank you notes. I was also able to use the polka-dot invitation backing as the background for station signage I created myself in PhotoShop (see Tolsby frames, below).

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The tables received navy blue tablecloths with a gray-and-white chevron runner, which I made in about 15 minutes using fabric from JoAnn’s that I used peel-and-stick hem tape on. You could certainly get all formal and fancy and sew them, but I don’t have that kind of time these days. On the main table, I used a light-blue-and-white-polka-dot runner for variety. Full disclosure: I didn’t even hem that one. I just folded it over. #sorrynotsorry #keepingitreal

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I found navy and gray paper pinwheels from Dress My Cupcake on flash deal site Pick Your Plum (note: They were super cute and easy to assemble, but the adhesive they were manufactured with didn’t stick at all, so I ended up using hot glue to keep the pinwheels fanned out.) I hung them with clear fishing wire over a plain blue twin-sized flat sheet from Walmart, which was attached near the ceiling with heavy-duty Command hooks. In a perfect world — or at least one where I am sleeping more than 3 hours per stretch every night — I would have ironed it, too.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I chose two of my favorite Owen pictures from the past year, edited them to black and white, and had them printed at 16×20” via Shutterfly, using several promo codes and $20 off coupons I’d saved up, so they were only about $5 shipped. I used spray adhesive to mount them on thin white foam board, and also hung them using clear fishing wire. The white elephant in the middle is freehand cut from plain poster board, and in retrospect I would have made it bigger and/or added a circle around it. Ah well. We threw some DIY helium balloon bunches on the side as well.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

For centerpieces, I made DIY elephant topiaries after seeing something similar on Etsy by way of Pinterest. I bought the gray poms from PomVillage on Etsy and cut out the ears/trunk from a paper plate elephant craft template I found in a Google search HERE. The eyes are stick-on google eyes I found at Michael’s. I hot glued everything together, then hot-glued it to a wooden dowel rod I spray-painted gray. (I bought two of them at Lowe’s and cut them to size.) The whole shebang is stuck through a styroforam half-ball that’s sitting in a small terra cotta pot (also from Lowe’s), both of which were painted like the dowel. I found the most adorable paper mache elephants at JoAnn’s and spray painted them gray and light blue for both the main table and one of the side tables.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I used the ever-popular (for a reason) white Tolsby frames from IKEA to display station signs. Overused? Maybe, but I still love, love the clean look and ease of use (and re-use).

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I got the guest of honor’s T-shirt from Doodlebug Embroidery on Etsy, and was able to customize the elephant’s fabric to match the party’s chevron scheme.


BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

We kept the fare simple since we were feeding a crowd of out-of-town visitors (and have I mentioned the not sleeping thing?) Lunch was a DIY sandwich bar, complete with an elephant-shaped sandwich cutter and juice boxes disguised as elephants (based on a Pinterest find). The dinner lineup included Jumbo Ravioli Bake (Three bags frozen ravioli, covered in two jars sauce and baked for about an hour at 375 degrees; I added Italian seasoning, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves on top and broiled for 5 minutes on a friend’s recommendation. We’re still enjoying the leftovers!), Gigantic Family Salad and “Elephant Ear” Bread.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I ordered sugar cutout cookies from my favorite local baker in the shape of elephants and number 4 in the same colors as the invites, and an 8” double-layer cake also based on the invite design. Both lasted a day or two after the party, which pleased the birthday boy to no end. Bottled water with custom elephant wraps completed the menu; we also created a signature cocktail, Pachyderm Punch, that consisted of cranberry Sierra Mist and vodka, for the really big kids :).

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home


BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The crafts and games were my favorite part of this party. I found printable elephant coloring pages by searching Google, and even found create-your-own-story pages featuring Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie characters. I got some elephant-shaped crayons from Diddy Colours on Etsy, too.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

There was a make-your-own elephant mask station, and a Pose with a Pachyderm photo booth where partygoers could snap a selfie with an elephant. The prop lineup included famous pachyderms like Babar, Horton, Willems’ Elephant (and Piggie), Jumbo, the elephant from Jerry Smath’s But No Elephants, and Dumbo.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I also made a few quote cards featuring sayings from those books/movies, as well as some hashtags, because it’s 2015, my friends. We had story time with books featuring these characters as well.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

Owen opened his gifts by playing a version of the White Elephant Exchange game, where I assigned each gift grouping a number on an elephant sticker and let him choose which number he wanted to open first, and so on.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The most popular game, though, was my Elephant in the Room scavenger hunt. My dear husband crafted nearly a dozen colorful origami elephants (using THIS YouTube video tutorial), which we then hid Easter-egg style around the house. It was such a hit that we’re (a) still playing it nightly, and (b) have already given it some twists, like find-the-elephant-in-the-dark-using-just-a-flashlight. I made hunt checklists (download mine HERE; or, just Google elephant silhouettes and drop into a Word doc), where you could either color in the elephants you’re hunting in advance and check them off as you find them, or have kids take crayons with them and color them in themselves as they locate elephants. Last, we played a couple rounds of Memory, playing off an elephant’s impeccable one.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The final touches were mini notepad favors — which I found in white and gray in the dollar section of Michael’s and packaged in cello bags with gray chevron ribbon — because “an elephant never forgets,” and a new Elephant and Piggie book — I Am Invited to a Party! — for guests to sign with a birthday message.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I have a feeling there will be elephant detritus around my house through the holidays — there will certainly be party toys strewn across my floor long past then — but I have one happy four-year-old. With a new baby in the house, it was about time he had a day (ahem, weekend) all to himself.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

Even if the baby did try and steal the show with a “Mommy’s Little Peanut” shirt :). (The elephant jokes…they just keep coming.)

You can also check out this party on Catch My Party!


Little lamb nursery reveal

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

[This room was featured on Honey We’re Home as part of the HWH Loves Bloggers summer room series. Check out some of the other amazing nurseries HERE!]

What happens when you mix one part back-to-work-post-maternity-leave with two parts up-three-times-a-night-nursing-schedule and three parts work-crazytown-thanks-to-major-events-and-coworkers-with-personal-turmoil? A blog that doesn’t get updated, that’s what.

But one thing that did receive a major update this year was our nursery for Mr. Emmett, transforming it from a makeshift toddler room that we never decorated into a sweet, serene space for all things baby boy. Save for one small cross-stitch sheep that I have yet to finish and hang, the room has been complete since shortly after he arrived. Which is more than I can say for his baby book. Or photo albums. Or my mom’s one-line-a-day journal.

But we all remembered to brush our teeth this morning, so there’s that. #winning

The before:

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

And, here are the “after” highlights:

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

I wanted a classic baby-blue and white color scheme and fell in love with Restoration Hardware’s sheep line; the bedding and upper wall color (Cloud Blue) are from it. The sentimental side of me loves that both boys had RH Baby & Child-themed nurseries (check out Owen’s chocolate-and-sage nursery HERE). I don’t know if they do this every year, but RH had a big blowout sale right around New Year’s that I took advantage of.

The crib and changing table are holdovers from Owen’s nursery (Taylor line by Baby Cache) and have both held up very well. There are a few nicks — and a small rust-colored scratch that I suspect was caused by Woody from Toy Story dive-bombing off the mattress — that could easily be filled in with a paint pen. Or, I can just call it vintage-y and move on. The knit pillow (with sheep buttons — squeal!) was made by my awesome mama. She also made the knit baby blanket you can see on the ottoman. (Sorry, she’s mine.) The plush sheep is from Pottery Barn Kids.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The monogram canvas was an easy peasy DIY project, which I can totally vouch for since I project-managed it and the hubs actually executed because he was afraid of paint fumes around the pregnant lady. I bought the largest canvas available at Hobby Lobby (20×30″ or something like that) and a 14″ unfinished wooden monogram from The Letter Shack on Etsy. The hubs did some sort of math voodoo that made my head hurt and figured out where to tape off the stripes with painter’s tape, then painted them in. We used Restoration Hardware’s Toast, which I got in a sample can for less than $3 during that New Year’s sale. The monogram was painted RH’s Cloud Blue, then attached to the canvas studs using small nails and a nail gun (we painted over the tiny holes one more time). Some wire on the back for hanging and it was done. Definitely my favorite part of the room!

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

I was a fan of how I laid out Owen’s changing table from a functional standpoint so I recreated it, spray painting the Sara Bear diaper caddy Krylon’s Almond and swapping out his chocolate-brown changing pad covers for light blue ones. I’m a big fan of Carter’s minky dot covers, and found several of them this time around on eBay. The curtain rod is from Martha Stewart’s line for Home Depot, and the curtains are Lenda from IKEA. I also have Matlida IKEA panels that I meant to put up, but bought a single instead of double curtain rod by mistake. I also found THESE stick-on blackout panels to help with lighting (or lack thereof) during the day.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The rocker is Stork Craft Tuscany’s glider with ottoman, an upgrade gift from the hand-me-down glider we had for Owen that was fully functional but a bit tight in width, making it uncomfortable the older he got, especially during feedings. This glider is wider and taller in back (hello, middle-of-the-night dozing) and has covered arms, which I love. The pockets on either side of the arms are super handy, and the cushions haven’t lost their shape at all. I loved the look of upholstered rockers, but when we test-drove them I hated how stiffly they moved and preferred the swinging motion of the gliders.

The lumbar pillow is also from RH Baby & Child’s sheep line and is both cute and functional as a mini-Boppy pillow (which came in handy with a baby who only wanted to be held for naps all summer). I took advantage of a Shutterfly free-poster sale in May and had one of Emmett’s hospital newborn photos enlarged to 16×20″ — the frame was on sale at Michael’s. (True story: I ordered this print during a 3 a.m. feeding from the Shutterfly iPhone app. Seriously, I would have accomplished nothing outside of keeping us all alive this summer had it not been for the good folks at Apple.)

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The Threshold Carson bookshelf I found during a furniture sale at Target. Some of its styling pieces:

  • The lace runner was given to me by my grandmother;
  • The picture frames are Hobby Lobby;
  • I used washable light-blue stamp ink to make the footprint/handprint on white cardstock, cut to size;

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

  • The clock I found in an antique store and spray-painted Krylon’s Almond;
  • The lamp I found at a thrift store years ago and then added a clearance $5 lampshade;
  • The candle pedestal was picked up at Target several years ago;
  • The travel sleep sheep was a shower gift before Owen was born;

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

  • The matching chicken-wire baskets I found at JoAnn’s;
  • The round picture frame holding baby socks was from my stash and also got the Almond paint treatment;
  • The name plaque is just an unfinished wooden plaque from JoAnn’s, painted RH Cloud Blue with cork letters (also from JoAnn’s) glued on;
  • And the shelf curtains are made from drop-cloth remnants (ahem) and held up by mini tension rods.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

Above the bookshelf is a basic peg shelf found on Amazon and a sheep garland I found on Etsy at The Path Less Traveled.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The Willow Tree figurine was a Mother’s Day gift, and the silver frame was in my little sister’s nursery and then handed down.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The sheep cross-stitch is Count Your Blessings by Country Cottage Needleworks; framing by Michael’s. The baby brush was mine, and I found the silver cup on eBay.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

I made the vinyl “The Help” quote using my Silhouette (I think the design was $1 or so) to go above my framed christening gown — find the how-to details HERE. Definitely my second-fave part of the room (other than the baby, natch).

The bottom half of the wall and the doors/window trim were a basic Sherwin Williams white, which we had a painting company come in and do for us. The hubs added the chair rail himself after they finished.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

Last but not least, I had to hang up this door sign my grandma made for me. I like to think it has magical grandma-induced powers to encourage sleepy babies :).

New baby, new room — and one more step forward in our ever-evolving quest to make this house a home. That’s enough of an update for me, for now.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home{Photo by Kristin Jent Photography}

Check out my other room re-dos:

Turquoise & fuschia laundry

Turquoise & fuschia home office

Shabby chic foyer

Craftsman-inspired chocolate-and-sage nursery

DIY reusable Post-it frames

DIY Post-it Note Frames | The Sensible Home

After the success of my son’s Energy In a Jar teacher appreciation gifts last fall, our PTA group went looking for something equally crowd-pleasing to hand out during National Teacher Appreciation Week in May. Given that I was T-minus six days away from giving birth, I went looking for something fast and easy to assemble. Our pick: DIY Post-it Note holders. They’re made from basic acrylic picture frames, so the recipients can either add more Post-its when they run out or use it as a picture frame. Our inspiration came from THIS site.

For 40 teachers and staff, we spent just under $130 for all supplies, making them less than $4 per person. I bought 4×6″ landscape acrylic frames in bulk on eBay, the pens, Post-it Notes, and adhesive velcro on Amazon, and the scrapbook paper at Michael’s. If I had had time (and been able to see my feet without laying down), I would have inserted matching scrapbook paper strips into the pen chamber for an extra punch.

DIY Post-it Note Frames | The Sensible Home

I cut 4×6″ sheets of paper in matching patterns but different colors — so they would match throughout the school but allow teachers to choose their fave shade — then used square scallop paper punches I had on hand to cut out the message, which I printed on basic white cardstock. (Find a downloadable version HERE.) A couple swipes of an adhesive glue roller (I love THESE — but you can usually find any brand of these on discount at places like Ollie’s, Tuesday Morning, etc.) to adhere the papers together, and into the frame they went. I used hot glue to attach the Post-it Note pads to each frame, and adhesive velcro strips to secure the pens.

We had PTA volunteers deliver the frames to each teacher, letting them choose which shade they wanted, and they were a HUGE hit. I could see these also going over well for nurse appreciation, administrative assistants day, etc.

What have you crafted for someone else lately?

DIY Yarn-wrapped letters

DIY yarn-wrapped letters

For my first-ever post written while holding a sleeping baby, I’m opting for something short and sweet. Kind of like the baby. (Except he’s growing like a weed and I doubt he’ll grow to be so short, but I digress.)

DIY yarn-wrapped letters{Before}

Filed under “Projects I didn’t even put on my pre-baby to-do list because I doubted I’d get to it but then somehow did,” I updated the yarn-wrapped letters in Owen’s playroom to be a bit more equal-opportunity minded, replacing his name with the more generic — yet equally cute — PLAY. (See the original room reveal HERE.)

DIY yarn-wrapped letters

I didn’t try to be a perfectionist here — no hot glue or craft glue, just a bit of Scotch tape at the yarn starting point and then wrapped like a crazy lady until they were covered. I left the tops and bottoms open — the former because I was slightly lazy/hearing the nesting call to finish all the things, the latter because they stand up unassisted better that way. You also can’t see either given their placement on the wall shelf, so no point in slaving over details that aren’t noticed anyway. Now I just need to update the picture on the left — that baby isn’t the baby anymore!

Here’s to many more hours of playtime in a space all their own.

DIY yarn-wrapped letters{Real life, right here.}

Painted paneling + DIY farmhouse bed = sleep

DIY painted wood paneling & twin farmhouse bed | The Sensible Home

After working on it for months, we finally made some progress on Owen’s new “big boy” room this weekend.

Considering that his little brother will be here in less than three weeks, I’d call that thinking ahead.

We considered letting them share a room, but given Owen’s much-appreciated ability to sleep 12 straight hours overnight — and a newborn’s incapability of sleeping more than, say, three — I wanted to separate them, in hopes of keeping some portion of sanity on our part.

I won’t lie: it also gave me an excuse to decorate a second nursery. (See Owen’s original chocolate-and-sage nursery HERE.)

DIY painted wood paneling & twin farmhouse bed | The Sensible Home

I’m going with an Americana/vintage farm theme for Owen’s room — you can see my inspiration via Pinterest HERE. Those rope name signs and closet barn doors are happening, people. But, for now, we’ve finished the two biggest projects: painting the room’s original 1950’s wood paneling and constructing a twin bed. And by we, I mean I picked out the paint and the bed plan, and my husband handled the execution. #spoiled

The walls took two coats of primer (we used the water-based High Hide Cover-Stain Zinsser because that’s what all the tutorials — and Bob Vila — recommended for real wood vs. veneer paneling; in retrospect, the husband thinks the oil-based primer would have adhered and covered better), then two coats of paint (Sherwin-Williams Dover White).

DIY painted wood paneling & twin farmhouse bed | The Sensible Home

We didn’t do any caulking in between the panel grooves, which would have made the room look more polished but would have also done us in, given our deadline and the fact that halfway through this project the ceiling morphed from white to baby-doll pink. It was like #TheDress that broke the Internet, but IN MY HOUSE. (We ended up painting the ceiling the same color as the walls.)

The husband followed plans for Ana White’s DIY farmhouse twin bed, and didn’t make any major modifications, although he did opt to drop in a metal twin bed frame instead of adding slats to hold the mattress so the bed can be disassembled for moving at a later date. He bolted the metal frame to the headboard so this sucker isn’t going anywhere in the meantime. I think we also used our own measurements for where to place the side rails — I wanted them not too high but not too low. It took two coats of primer and two coats of Valspar’s Mountain River.

DIY painted wood paneling & twin farmhouse bed | The Sensible Home

The buffalo-check duvet cover/pillow sham is from IKEA, and the star sheets are from Pottery Barn Kids. I found the basic bedskirt for a steal from Amazon.

Sweet dreams :).

No girls? No problem.


How to shadowbox a family heirloom | The Sensible Home

The only thing that’s traveled around my family more than my christening gown is the story behind it. (Well, that, and my grandma’s popcorn ball recipe. Both representing skill sets I have yet to master.)

How to shadowbox a family heirloom | The Sensible Home

My grandma made this gown for me, in a week, for fun; it took me longer than a week to gather the crafting supplies I needed to shadowbox it. Which is what I decided to do with it when we learned that we’d be adding another son to our family. It’s too pretty to hang, covered in yellowing cellophane, in the back of a closet. If no baby girls are around to wear it, no matter. It makes me smile and it’s going on the nursery wall.

It’s also a nice visual reminder that my sewing skills will likely top out at pillowcases. (Note to my 10-year-0ld self: You really should pay attention to grandma’s sewing lessons. You’ll want that know-how in 20 years when Pinterest comes calling.)

How to shadowbox a family heirloom | The Sensible Home

I found a rustic-looking shadowbox 50% off at Hobby Lobby, then covered the back panel with a layer of quilt batting (which I already had lying around from reupholstering our dining room chairs), followed by a layer of drop cloth fabric (take that, stupid curtain project). I gave the drop cloth a good iron first. And used duct tape, which is super classy. (But easy and efficient, so I’m okay with that.)

Then, I just smoothed out the dress and used basic straight dress pins to tack it to the fabric-covered panel, gathered the skirt at the bottom, and popped it into place in the shadowbox (which I gave a good dusting/Windexing to first). Ready to hang!

How to shadowbox a family heirloom | The Sensible Home

It’s easily removable if ever it’s needed, but maybe after being worn by half a dozen or so girls in the family since me, it’s ready for some R&R as wall art.

That’s a blue-ribbon craft in my book.

How to shadowbox a family heirloom | The Sensible Home

A few of my favorite things

There are still 12 hours left to be reflective on 2014, and I’m all about maximizing time. Yesterday, I posted about my most popular blog posts during 2014 (some of which were posted the year prior); now, I’m sharing my list of which posts were my personal favorites, specifically from the last 12 months. (But I do still love those souped-up clipboard gifts.)

best productivity apps websites tools

10 Productivity Tools You’ll Love

Because I love organizing. And streamlining. And apps. This is also one of the first posts I was able to work on from my newly-redesigned home office, the first time I’ve lived somewhere that has such a space.

Hey Y'all Wall Art

Hey Y’all

My DIY entryway art with a Southern flair makes me smile every time I walk past it (which is a lot), and it took one naptime to create. I love that it was very easy and is very me.

mother's day & kitchen stories

The stories my kitchen tells

One of my personal goals for this blog is to let it be a space where I can continue stretching my creative writing muscles to complement my day job in communications. I could stand to do quite a bit more of that, but this post was one attempt. If you want to know what my blog’s about, read this.

sage white burlap dining room

China cabinet stylin’

I was apparently the last house-hunter on earth who was overjoyed to find both (a) a separate dining room and (b) built-in corner china cabinets, and getting them styled was one of the first house decorating projects I finished. I’m still so happy with how they turned out.

Craftsman-inspired silver sage & chocolate nursery

Sage-and-chocolate nursery throwback

As I get ready to create another nursery this spring, I’m even more sentimental about Owen’s original nursery in our old house. I spent a LOT of time planning and executing it, and I still remember finishing the paper stars hanging above his changing table, two weeks before my due date, and thinking, “Now what?”

how to get a toddler ready for school the sensible home

How to get a toddler ready for school

Seriously, I need to keep better notes and make this a series. Small children are a hoot, and oftentimes more fun to talk to than adults.

There were plenty of other parties and projects I’m fond of, from the husband’s 30th birthday recap to using my vintage Junior League cookbooks as functional kitchen décor, but these are the highlights.

I’m off to find my new Post-its and make an IKEA list. Bring it, 2015.