Let’s be honest. First birthday parties are not about the babies. They’re about the parents. It’s a chance for the parents to say, “We’ve successfully cared for this tiny tyrant for an entire year, cheers to seventeen more!” I told myself that I couldn’t start planning Jack’s first birthday party until I submitted my LCSW application–I completed my practice hours over a year ago but had never gotten around to applying for the exam! Well a few weeks ago I finally got the last of my paperwork together and Jack and I drove across town to deliver it by hand to the state social work board. Then I went home and promptly began pinteresting party ideas! Here’s what I’m envisioning:

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Sources from top to bottom: swoon events, dreamlite photography, go graham go, moulage collection, sweet treats boutique

I love the idea of cupcakes. It’s good portion control for tummies big and small and Jack can have one of his very own without requiring a dedicated “smash cake.” My sister is an excellent baker and agreed to try her hand at this healthier recipe (bonus: it looks delicious!). I’m really not into anything “themed,” so I think I’ll stick to simple decor. If I can get myself organized enough to order prints I’d love to have a bunch of photos clipped to a clothesline showing Jack from in utero to today. I will definitely take advantage of this free printable to add a little flair to the cupcake of honor, especially since it ties into the colors I’m liking (blue, yellow, and green, the same colors I used in Jack’s nursery and in more muted shades throughout the rest of the house). And I could totally try my hand at some pretty lettering on a chalkboard to memorialize some of Jack’s stats (or outsource it to my friend Cassie, who is really good at that sort of thing). As for food, I’m thinking simple summer fare like sandwiches, potato salad, hummus, guacamole, fruit kabobs, and a cheese tray. We’ll probably just invite immediate family and close friends, and celebrate with extended family a week later when we see them for the Fourth of July.

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s a beautiful day in Baton Rouge and Jack and I are planning on making the most of it! I hope you do too!

I don’t have much to write about today, which is part of why I’m posting later than normal (mostly it’s because Jack is teething and driving me B-A-N-A-N-A-S), but I wanted to show you an updated pic of my veggie garden.

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You can see that some grass is coming up, and I decided to cover the lower four squares for now unless I decide to plant something in them (I just tacked down some cardboard). I did sow some basil and okra the other day in two empty squares. Here’s the updated layout.

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I forgot to add the sugar snap peas to the diagram above, but you can see them coming up gangbusters next to the tomatoes. That’s the quickest I’ve ever had anything come up from seed! The lettuce and spinach are not really doing much. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s already too warm for them or because I used seeds left over from last year. And so far the asters are looking much better than the zinnias (or lack thereof). I’m still planning to add some marigolds if I find myself in the seed aisle! I looked the other day when I went to pick up Jack’s swing and that’s when I got the basil and okra, but I couldn’t find any marigold seeds.

Also, an update on my new compost bin! I moved about half of my pile into it the other day. The old pile had packed itself down quite a bit, but once I got it all stirred up there was a lot more there than I thought. I filled the entire trashcan and the old pile still looks as big as it did before I started. Maybe as the stuff in the trashcan breaks down into compost I can fill it with more materials from my pile until it’s all gone. I’ve been doing a good job of collecting kitchen scraps in a container in my fridge and bringing them out to the conveniently located compost “bin” every few days. The lid does pop off when I try to roll it around the yard, though, so I’ll look for a bungee cord next time I’m at the dollar or hardware store.

Can anyone advise me on the best way to battle the grass without hurting my plants? After this growing season I think I’ll cover the whole bed with several layers of newspaper and cardboard, but what to do until then?

As soon as the weather started getting nice enough for us to spend time outside I began my campaign for putting up a wooden baby swing. Nick was oddly resistant to the idea. I guess he thought it would be really expensive? But I knew that it would pay for itself in endless hours of enjoying the great outdoors. I looked on etsy and other online sources, but I actually found the perfect swing at my neighborhood hardware store. I paid $35 and a few weeks later I had my swing, handcrafted from cypress by a man who lives just outside of town.

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Of course, buying it was the easy part. It was up to Nick and I to figure out how to hang it. We took some nylon rope we already had on hand and created a loop with my keys strung on to give it some weight, then Nick threw it as hard as he could towards the branch that I wanted it to hang from.

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We’ve used the keys-on-a-string approach to hang things before, but I guess they weren’t heavy enough for this job. So we strung a couple of wrenches on there instead. Success!

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The only problem with this strategy was getting the wrenches back off of the rope without ruining our loop. So we tied another wrench to another string and tossed it over the branch as well, then tied that string to the original wrenches and pulled them back up and down the other side of the rope. I’m sure there’s an easier way to get a rope over a branch but we’re not really that good at this sort of thing. Nick got a good laugh at me shimmying the rope to get those wrenches back over the branch. Once we’d solved that problem we pulled the two free ends of the rope through the loop and pulled, making a knot over the branch.

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Then we just strung the swing onto the rope and tied it up!

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After googling to see what would work best, we secured the ends of the rope with three simple knots, then cut the excess rope and melted the ends with a candle to keep them from coming unraveled and compromising our knots. It feels pretty solid!

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The swing didn’t come with a harness, so we poached one from a restaurant-style highchair we aren’t using. Jack would probably be okay without the harness but I didn’t want to chance it. If you wanted to try this at home and don’t have any unused baby gear to borrow a harness from you could probably track one down online (perhaps here or here).

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Jack LOVES it. He could sit and swing for hours. And it’s kind of fun that the way it’s hung it can swing around in all directions, sort of like a tire swing.

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I thought about painting or staining it, but in the end I decided to let it weather naturally so that it will hopefully look similar to the wood picket fence. I’m absolutely in love with the charming look and fun outside play it provides. Louisiana is absolutely beautiful this time of year and our shaded front yard is the perfect place to enjoy it. Have I mentioned that it’s also crawfish season? It’s okay to be jealous.

Happy Tuesday, party people! Instead of droning on with the same old same old what’s-going-on-in-my-life, I’ll be talking today about my friend Christa and her blue-tiled kitchen. True story: I met Christa volunteering at a suicide hotline (that’s also how I met my friend Cassie, and a handful of other wonderful people in my life). Christa and her boyfriend James bought their house in 2011 from James’ grandparents (whom I also know from The Phone, shout out to Ms. Betty!). Ms. Betty and her husband owned it for more than twenty years before downsizing to a smaller condo, and now Christa and James are slowly but surely trying to make it their own. One of the big things holding them back is the kitchen. It’s centrally located and sports a blue-tiled floor. Without the budget to overhaul the floor, Christa feels paralyzed in decorating not only the kitchen but also the adjacent living room and other surrounding areas.

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I scoured Pinterest and the internet at large for images of rooms with strong hits of blue, and what appealed to me the most was seeing it paired with muted earth tones and lots of neutrals.

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InStyle

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Here’s what I would do if it was my kitchen:

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1. Benjamin Moore Blue Echo / 2. Benjamin Moore Mink / 3. Benjamin Moore Cream Fleece / 4. Thomas Paul Dahlia Aegean / 5. Crate & Barrel Olivewood Nibble Bowl / 6. Crate & Barrel Potted Kalenchoe / 7. Target Whittier Elite Rectangular Platter / 8. Fresh lemons (source) / 9. Crate & Barrel Turner Black Barstool / 10. Target Threshold Fairfield Stripe Rug – Natural

Christa already said that she wants to paint the cabinets a deep espresso brown, and I think that pairing them with cream on the walls would be really lovely. Both of these shades jive nicely with the blue floors, which Christa said were a pretty close match to BM Blue Echo. With so much color on the floor I’d try hard to keep the rest of the room airy and neutral. Some fresh (or fake) lemons and herbs growing in white ceramic pots would bring in color while maintaining the earthy vibe, and a window treatment using the same fabric I used for my counter skirt would carry the same feel into the breakfast nook. Black barstools add contrast (though I’d search for a cheaper option than these, or maybe even paint some secondhand stools from craigslist or the thrift store. I’d also probably paint the island a lighter color (possibly BM Cream Silk), but that’s a personal choice. The wood trim can shine in this color scheme instead of screaming “I’m outdated!” and a neutral runner on the floor brings in more texture and earthy color (jute is another option that’s just as earthy and easier to keep clean). White dishware is easy to collect secondhand and will still fit right in if Christa decides to change the rest of the room up again later.

Sometimes it can be hard working around expensive-to-replace elements like flooring, counters, and upholstered furniture, but it’s totally doable and the result can be a really fun and eclectic look. I actually think that having limits like a budget or a blue tiled floor can be great in that they drive creativity. Having buckets of money might even take the fun out of decorating for me, haha.

I hope you like my ideas, Christa, and at the same time it’s okay if you don’t! We all have different styles and tastes, which is why the kitchen that made Ms. Betty happy for twenty years can be so unappealing to someone young enough to be her granddaughter.