An Uncomplicated Life Blog: 2019

Monday, June 24, 2019

Uses For Lesser Known Essential Oils

Everyone knows a good use for lavender or lemon essential oil, but what are some of the less common oils good for?

I've amassed quite an oil collection over the years, including getting oils as freebies from various reward programs and from oil companies looking to work with me on marketing initiatives. And while the freebies and rewards are awesome, it's left me with bottles of oils I have no idea what to do with. Some I only know one use for, but have multiple bottles of it and will never be able to use it all! I decided to do some research on lesser known oils that are still affordable and popular as freebies or that come in essential oil sets, but when you get them you're like, "Great - what the heck do I do with this?!" These are some great uses for lesser known essential oils. These claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

First, the essential oils! Revive oils are my new go-to. Yup, I used to be with Young Living, but the expense of those oils were insane. I asked some of my oily gurus who they got their oils from and learned about Revive. They're therapeutic grade, indigestible essential oils that are NOT a multi-level-marketing structure. You can go on their website and buy them like you'd buy something on Amazon - no need to sign up for some membership! They have packages with diffusers and single essential oils, plus roller bottles and other lifestyle items. Use code Paige10 for 10% off your order and experience the same quality of Young Living or doTERRA without the obnoxious price and hassle of "becoming a member."

I'm not sure why more of us aren't using this gem, given all it's amazing uses! I didn't have it in my stash, but it kept coming up in all my research and I promptly ordered it. It's probably one of my favorite smelling oils, too! This oil has a high mineral content, so it's fantastic for your overall health, but here are some specific uses:
- Add a drop to your skincare for anti-aging benefits
- Put a drop of indigestible grade cardamom under your tongue or add it to your mouthwash to help curb halitosis 
- Put a drop on your flex points to help balance hormones

We all know this one as the "active ingredient" in bug spray (check out my DIY bug spray to make your own!) turns out this oil is an antioxidant powerhouse. Here are some of the best non-bug-repellent uses of the oil:
- Use a carrier oil and several drops of citronella; rub on your lower abdomen to help relieve menstrual cramps
- Add a drop to your skincare regimen for anti-aging benefits

Clary Sage
This is one of my favorite smells in the world! I knew it was good for hormone balancing and supposedly helps induce labor (so if you're pregnant, stay away from this one until you're full term!) but I had no idea it has all these other great uses too:
- Rub one or two drops on your inner forearm to help balance hormones
- If you are prone to breakouts, you can add it to your skincare routine (you can also make your own skincare - check out this face wash and this toner - and add it to those recipes)
- Add a drop of indigestible grade clary sage to tea for immune system support during cold and flu season

I have no fewer than three bottles of this in my collection. I had no idea what to do with it, other than it assists with breast milk production. It has such a strong scent, I don't like it in my diffuser, so I've just collected bottle after bottle of it. Turns out, this is a pretty great oil to have extra of:
- It's a bacteria killer, so it's great for things like homemade deodorant, cleaners (use it with vinegar and lemon essential oil) and adding it to mouthwash for bad breath/halitosis 
- Use it with eucalyptus/peppermint/menthol to help clear congestion (I told y'all, it's a STRONG smell!)
- With a carrier oil, rub several drops on lactating breasts to increase breast milk supply

I know a million ways to Sunday on how to use this herb in cooking, but when it comes to the essential oil, I was lost. Fair warning - it is a strong and "hot" oil, meaning one drop goes a long way and if not properly diluted, it will irritate your body whether you've applied it topically or ingested it. That said, because of it's strength, it's got some pretty fantastic uses:
- It's a strong antiseptic, so I add it to my diffusers with a thieves/on guard blend when someone is sick in the house
- Add one drop to a chest rub to assist in respiratory health and clearing
- Add one drop to a cup of hot water, lemon and honey to make a tea for intestinal health

Uses for lesser known essential oils
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It's been really fun to explore essential oils and see what they're good for. While I'll always stock oils like lavender, lemon, Thieves/On Guard/Immunity Boost, using the lesser known oils is beneficial too! Not only to use up some random freebies you were gifted, but also because many of these oils are low cost and have so many great uses.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

My Best Tips To Soothe Teething Infants

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Triple Paste - Diaper Rash Ointment. All opinions are 100% mine.

If your baby is having a rough go at teething, use these tips from a mom of four to help soothe him or her

We're officially "there" with the twins: the oh-so-fun, months (ok, years) long phase called TEETHING. If you've had a teething baby, you know just what I'm talking about. Nonstop drool, extra fussiness, occasional fevers, and best of all? Seemingly never ending diaper rash. All of my children have handled teething a little differently, which means I've had four kids and five years to craft up some of the best ways to soothe your poor teething baby. Here are my best tips to soothe teething infants.

The twins are partial to brightly colored wooden teethers... And Knox loves things he shouldn't teeth on, like Triple Paste!

1) Find them a teether they like
My oldest child, Henry, wouldn't take any teethers. He generally wasn't a fan of relentlessly chewing on toys. For him, I'd dampen a washcloth and put it in the freezer. Then when he was extra fussy, I'd let him gnaw on it. On the other end of the spectrum are the twins: they love to chew on everything. They'll take any teether. Literally, everything immediately goes straight into their mouths! Otto was somewhere in the middle. Whatever it is - a cold washcloth or a store bought teether - stock up on a few of them so your baby has something to comfort those irritated gums with.

2) Stock up on the best diaper rash cream
The one common factor in all four of my teething children has been occasional diaper rash. Otto was the KING of diaper rashes. That poor kid had one well over half the time while he was teething, and even to this day at three years old and wearing underwear, he'll still occasionally get one. It was with him that I discovered Triple Paste. When the standard diaper rash remedies didn't work for him, I asked his pediatrician what I could do for his poor, raw rump. She recommended Triple Paste. It's a game changer! One application and the rash is gone. You know, until the next round of teeth push through the gums anyway... Now with the twins, I don't even mess around with other options and go straight to this stuff so that the they don't have to deal with days of a bad diaper rash. One application and it's under control! Stock up on this stuff moms. Trust me and take it from poor Otto: teething diaper rashes can get ugly and last for days at a time. Nip them in the bud with Triple Paste. Get your Triple Paste Coupon here!

Flying Theodore, the more diaper rash prone twin

3) Incorporate bibs to your child's outfit
Henry was the king of drool. After having to change his outfit four or five times a day (because it was winter and his onesie would get so soaked, he'd freeze) I got smart and put a bib on him. For a whole year of his life, part of his daily outfit was a bib! Now they make much cuter options (especially those cute bandanna bibs!) but back then, Henry was rocking a full bib, all day, every day. It was so much easier to switch those out than do a full outfit change. Not to mention, a bib cut down on laundry. Otto wasn't a drooler, and while the twins do drool, they're not the waterfall that Henry was. They have some extra drooly days that require bibs, but not the full out five to six bibs a day Henry would go through. Just goes to show that even siblings react so differently to teething, and it's best to be prepared!

Teething Henry, always in a bib

4) Know that this too shall pass
I've had babies who are totally calm during teething and babies who are absolutely inconsolable. I've had babies who teethe quickly and babies who seem to take years and years to cut all those teeth. No matter if it's long and drawn out or fast and furious, know that whatever your baby's going through, and subsequently whatever YOU'RE going through, it will pass. It will. It doesn't feel like it will, but it will. Sometimes the best you can do is hunker down and ride it out, and trust that this will be a blink of an eye in your memory of raising your children. That's what I do, anyway, when things are entirely out of my control. Just take a breath and accept that this time won't last forever. Other moms are exactly where you are now, they have been there before and they will be there after you.

Teething can be a real bear for both mom and baby! The lucky ones don't experience much change. The hardest teethers suffer from sleep issues, drool issues and perhaps worst of all the terrible diaper rashes! I learned my lesson with my second child, who was a miserable teething baby, and had the WORST, most constant diaper rash - get Triple Paste! As moms, we want to soothe and comfort our babies as much as we possibly can. Using these tips to soothe teething infants and applying Triple Paste to those sore, raw teething bums will help. You've got this, mama!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Natural Stress Relievers

Summer for moms (or any work at home/stay at home parent!) is STRESSFUL. Here are some ways I'm managing the summer chaos…

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Stressballs at Walmart. This shop has been compensated by P&G and its advertiser. The opinions and text are all mine.

It's June so that means just about all of us are in full out summer mode! Sure, the weather is nicer. There are pool days. Cookouts in the backyard. But if you're a work at home, stay at home or just employed part time, you know that summer also means your kiddos are around a whole lot more... And that means added stress, less time for your to-do list, and a much bigger grocery bill! Even if you're not one of the parents I mentioned, you still have the stress of finding additional childcare in the summer. Prior to having kids, it was the most relaxing season to enjoy, but now that I'm a mom, it's hands-down the most stressful season because there's so much more on my plate to manage. Which is exactly why I want to share some natural stress reliever ideas with you.
Stressballs is an amazing new herbal supplement available only at Walmart and They're gummies in two different formulas to help you destress day or night. Best of all, they're drug free and non-habit forming*. Stressballs Day helps you focus to keep you on track to get that to-do list checked off. If you're one of those people whose mind loves to wander and you realize you've wasted hours without really accomplishing anything, this is for you! It's energizing without any caffeine because of the naturally energizing citrus flavor. They're so yummy, I have to make sure I just have two (am I the only one who LOVES gummies? Just give me all my vitamins in gummy form, please).

Have you ever laid awake, either thinking about what happened that day, or running through your to-do list for the next day - or maybe both?! Stressballs Night helps calm your mind so that you can SLEEP. It has melatonin in it to help you relax and your body-destress. Have you ever noticed when you don't sleep well, you're even more stressed just from the lack of sleep? That's how I work, anyway. It's like a compounding effect. Stressballs Night is great because it helps me relax and sleep without any next day grogginess. Interested in giving this new product a try? Click here to learn more and to purchase Stressballs.

One of my favorite ways to de-stress is yoga. Not only does it provide a physical outlet to "work off" some stressors, savasana at the end is a wonderful five minutes to have some quiet and refocus your mind. I've found that having just a few minutes of solitude (yes, even just a few minutes!) is crucial to being happier, more focused and less stressed overall. But what about those kids, you ask? Find a yoga studio with childcare and bring them! In my city, we have access to both full service gyms that offer yoga on their class schedule as well as smaller yoga studios, both of which offer childcare at a ridiculously low cost. Run a google search for your area and give it a try! You'll be amazed at what that hour will do for your stress levels.
Another big stress reliever? A hobby! Cooking and gardening are two of my favorites. I love making and trying new recipes. Now, I do this on the weekends when I have time to make a meal, and my husband is around to both a) help me eat it and b) can watch the kids so that I can cook in peace. Weeknight meals are never very elaborate and aren't the best time for me to try something new. The key is having the time (or, more accurately, MAKING the time) for me to spend some time trying new flavors or cooking methods and having fun. Gardening is my second, and fairly new, hobby. This one is fun to involve my kids in! We all love to spend time outside, getting our hands dirty and learning about how food grows in our vegetable garden. The kids love to look for worms and bugs (which I scream and run away from... And they find that hilarious) and I love to watch our produce grow, take note of things that work and make sure I don't do the things that don't work again.
Hobbies are great because they switch up your daily tasks and to do lists, making room for fun things. Yes, you usually have to MAKE time for them. But if you bump them up on the priority list as necessary to de-stress, even 15 minutes can make a big improvement in your happiness and overall stress levels. Not sure what you like to do? Give something new a try! Get a drawing pad and some new pencils and sit outside and draw what's around you; google wine tasting classes in your area to refine your wine palette; sign up for a 5k and begin training for it. The options are endless, so try different activities until you find something that really brings you joy and you find your mind more rested after doing it.
Stress is inevitable in life, and you have to focus on managing it so that it doesn't overwhelm you. I'm a big fan of natural stress relievers. I've found that taking time to practice yoga (or even just getting five minutes in a day to just sit quietly and BE), having time to play around with my personal hobbies and taking an herbal supplement formulated to help me be my best self and live my best life (thank you Stressballs!) have all contributed to me more effectively and naturally managing my stress.
Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Monday, June 3, 2019

The Best Yoga Fashion Finds on Amazon

Amazon carries some AMAZING yoga clothes, most for less than $20 and with free try ons and shipping!

Amazon fashion is having it's moment, and I am HERE FOR IT. In Dallas, I get free same day shipping, next day max (if it's Prime eligible). If I don't like it, I simply send it back for free. And the styles that they now carry rival any Lululemon or Carbon38 piece but have a Walmart price tag. How great is that?! Yes, you have to do a little digging to find the really cute stuff but the good news is that I've done that for you in this post. I've rounded up the best yoga (or Pilates or Barre!) fashion finds on Amazon. And the best part? Most of these are under $20, and all of them are under $30. *Affiliate links used*

Long sleeve loose back
This is perfect to wear to the studio/gym when it's spring or fall, and perfect to throw on after a sweaty class if you need to run errands to overly-air-conditioned retailers all summer. Is that a thing in other cities? Because the air conditioning here in Tejas is NUTS. It will be 108 outside and 64 degrees in Target so no matter where you are, you're miserable. But I digress! This top is adorable for nearly every season.

Back tie tanks
Open backs with a tied waist are the thing right now, and I'm a fan. It allows you to show off the cute straps of your sports bra (two linked below!) but still cover your belly. It also allows a nice draft to flow during your heated flow so you don't get as hot. You get two in this order and there are a ton of color combos. Wining so hard.
Twisted strap sports bra
Many of the cutesy sports bras don't offer much support for larger chested gals, but this one does. It has wide straps (read: this one is comfortable) and a modest front (read: it will work for larger chests) yet still has style to it.

Back mesh tank
If you love back tie tanks but want a bit more coverage, this one is it. Instead of a totally open back, this tank has a mesh insert and a "muscle tee" cut that's more modest (but still cute!) than the tank listed above.

High waist capris
Who doesn't love a good high waist?! This one is listed as "control top" which is great if you're nearly anyone, but especially if you've ever had a baby. Or you want to pair it with a trending crop top without your belly hanging out.

High waist full length
I think I prefer full length pants over capris, even in the summer - as long as I'm going to a studio and then changing. If I have to be outside, I like capris better. Either way, these have flattering seams like one of my favorite high end brands (looking at you, Lululemon), but they're not $130 like those leggings!

Wrapped crop top
Perfect to pair with any high waist legging! It comes in long sleeves and short sleeves, both if which I find equally cute. The wrap makes it extra flattering. A lot of women at my studio will wear this to class over a sports bra, strip down to the sports bra for class, then put this on again afterwards.
There are SO many styles offered via that link! Mesh cutouts are surprisingly flattering. The angled cutouts and different fabric are slimming without being too revealing or losing the support of the legging. I have four or five pairs of mesh cutout leggings and they have yet to snag or lose their shape.

Keyhole back sports bra
This would be so cute under the back tie or the mesh cutout tank! It's a racer back style so there's still a good amount of support, but you get all the style of a skinny strap sports bra. I love all the colors it comes in, too.

Tell me these clothes don't rival Lululemon or Lorna Jane or any of the other high end workout clothes, right?! So great. And even greater with free Prime member shipping (same day, next day or two day, depending on your location), free try ons and free returns if you don't like it. 

Amazon fashion has affordable and cute yoga, barre, Pilates, workout and athleisure clothes for an affordable priceLike it? Pin it!

If you love the look of higher end yoga/barre/Pilates or athleisure clothes but don't want the high end price tag, you've got to get on board with Amazon Prime fashion! Free shipping. Free returns. And they have a try on period that's risk free, too. Not to mention, everything listed here is under $30 with most of it under $20! You can't even find that good of a deal in the sale section of Lululemon. Have you gotten on board with how awesome Amazon fashion is yet?! They've seriously up'd their game and I'm loving all the yoga fashion finds they now carry. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Summer Schedule

Happenings and musings as summer approaches

It made me laugh to write that title, because it's been hot here since the end of April and we've been out of school since mid-May, so "summer" has been happening here for ages, it seems. Or, you know, a few weeks. Anyway, with four kids aged 5 and under at home, the blog schedule is gonna change for a bit! More on that, what we're up to, and what I've been thinking and feeling lately - all about our summer schedule and a catch up post today.

First, the blog schedule. For the summer (June through Labor Day) I'm dropping down to one post a week, publishing new content on Mondays. Of course I'll be around on social media (be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!) but blog traffic slows wayyyyyyy down in the summer months. Plus, I've enrolled in a marketing course which I'm SO excited about! I haven't done any "professional development" type things since 2015. I was literally 36 weeks pregnant with Otto the last time I went to a blog conference. I'm so pumped to get back in the saddle of learning and then taking those skills and applying them here. There will probably be exceptions to the new Monday's only schedule, but that's the plan. I'll pick back up again in the fall after Labor Day when ALL OF MY KIDS ARE IN SCHOOL! Oh my word y'all, I'm going to have the house to myself three days a week from 9-2 again. I'll be able to write and take photos without crying babies in the background. I'll be able to brainstorm at home again. I can't even... But until then, I'll be rounding out the summer with posts on Mondays.

I'm actually pretty excited for the slow down. I'm a mom to four kids. I'm on my last babies. I want to pull back so that I'm fully present and able to enjoy them. In the fall, they start preschool. This is the last time they'll be at home full time, so I want them to be my focus and the blog to be secondary. Even though I LOVE blogging and working, I know this phase of life is fleeting and I should slow down and enjoy it.

A weird side effect of blogging only what I personally enjoy for the last few months has been a surprising realization that I actually really like being at home and doing homebody, homemaking stuff. I'm looking forward to a slower blog pace to really focus on some new hobbies, including gardening and crafting. It will be fun to slow down a little, spend some time doing these outdoor summer toddler activities, and just enjoy life until the busy fall season hits.

Unless I'm just totally kidding myself and will have absolutely no time for such things. That's probably more accurate! But a girl can dream, right? I should have time to pursue personal interests with four kids at home, don't you think? Ha! What will more likely happen is we'll be up to a whole lot of what I wrote about in this post

On a personal note, I actually have some fun travel planned! We'll be here in Texas for the bulk of summer while my two older boys go to a summer camp. Then in August, before Henry starts kindergarten - and that starts Aug 15 down here in the South - we'll pack up my big ol' Yukon Denali XL and head down to the coast of Houston to rent a beach house for a week. My sister, her husband and son will fly in from Boston and my folks will fly in from Savannah, and we'll spend a week together on the beach as a family. My kids are already talking about how excited they are for it! I am too - I'll get to see my nephew and sister, be by the ocean, and enjoy family time with my mom. And we don't have to get on a plane! (Just a quick 6 hour drive, hahaha! Ahhhhh... Hopefully all goes well and is painless.)

Then in September, I'll be headed to NYC with my best friend from high school to go wedding dress shopping. I haven't been to NYC since 2009 so a full 10 years later... I'm excited! I also haven't left the state of Texas since early 2017. That's the issue with having all these babies. You never escape. But I will. Soon. And am so excited to be a part of my BFF's big day and fun event and to see NYC again (and remind myself why I live in Texas, because condensed cities like that are cool for a weekend, but drive me absolutely insane for any longer than 2-3 days.)

Come October, the twins turn one so we'll have a birthday bash for them/us, and I turn 35 four days later. One of my to-to's this summer is plan a trip for just me and my husband to celebrate the milestone birthday. Where should we go? Wine country in Oregon? The coast of California somewhere? New Orleans (my fave city)?! I need to get on trip planning, stat.

That's how the summer is gonna go around here! A nice slowed down pace for the summer before the insanely busy fall we have planned with travel and birthdays filling our time before the holiday season starts. I can't wait for the slowed down pace, hot weather, and maybe - just maybe! - some time in my slower summer schedule to do some hobbies. Anyone have any fun summer plans?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Happy Memorial Day!

I'm taking the day to be with my fam! Thinking of all the service men and women who lost their lives so that I can live freely and spend a day with my own family members. Thank you for your service and paying the ultimate sacrifice!

Cheers to the unofficial start of summer, too. See y'all Thursday with some fun summery updates!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Father's Day Gift Idea

Father's Day is around the corner! Make this gift with your kids to make dad feel extra special

Every year, I struggle with what to get my husband for Father's Day. His birthday was just a month before, so anything material that he was wanting is already checked off the list. Plus, getting him something like, say, a laptop or a new suit just seems like a weird Father's Day gift, no? What's fatherly about that? Plus, if he needed or wanted that, he could just go buy it himself and get exactly what he wanted. I like to do something with the kids to make a meaningful gift. This is the Father's Day gift idea I came up with this year.

I've had good years of crafty gifts and total duds, too. Last year I got him a "Man Crate" with pizza making supplies so the he could make pizzas with the boys. That was a good one! His first Father's Day ever I got him cuff links with Henry etched into them. That was a pretty good idea, too. One year, I took both boys to Michael's Craft Store and let them pick out what they wanted to make for daddy. We wandered the aisles for a good long time before they settled on a birdhouse. We then picked out some paint colors, and I had overly high expectations on their skill level (and frankly, their interest level) of how we'd paint this birdhouse. It was a flop! Otto was a baby at the time so he napped while Henry and I went outside. Henry was all of two years old and far more interested in painting his hands than the actual birdhouse. It looked like junk and only got about half painted. To this day, it sits on a shelf in the garage... That year was a fail for sure. My intentions were good but the execution wasn't there. Turns out, doing crafts with kids isn't exactly easy! Pinterest will tell you it is. I'm here to correct your expectations.

As you know, we spend a ton of time outdoors. Several hours a day, and on the weekends, we're out there nonstop. We've also gotten into gardening and showing the boys how food is grown and where it comes from. This year for Father's Day, I thought a great gift would be a "stepping stone" with a hand or footprint of the boys in it with the year so we can see how they've grown year after year. I ordered this kit on Amazon that said it had enough mix for several "stones." My plan was to have the twins share a stone while Henry and Otto would get their own stones so that they could decorate them as they pleased (and I hoped it would turn out better than my failed birdhouse idea...)

Ours didn't quite turn out like the box, but that's ok!

As it turned out, Henry had a sick day from school so it was the perfect time to "test drive" this craft. It is DEFINITELY messy! I highly recommend doing it outside. I also learned that there's a narrow window for when the hand print will stay in the set plaster - meaning, it's not too wet, but still wet enough to put a print in it. We got a somewhat decent cast with Henry, but I decided it would be a terrible idea to try to get a print of the twins. This is definitely a craft that's good for older toddlers and children, not so much babies. Especially babies that are juuuuuust at the age where they stick everything in their mouths, and you can't control it. I knew the second I put their hand in that plaster, got it good and covered yet hadn't cleaned it off yet (because twins, and I'd have been busy sticking the other baby's hand in the plaster before it set too much) he'd eat a fist full of plaster. No thanks! We'll do another craft with them another day. Maybe this fall... I love a good fall craft, and they'll be turning one! No foreshadowing or anything.

You have to get the plaster at JUST the right time to mold a handprint in it!

After Henry's cast dried, Otto got to make one. Once his was dry, I decided to let them paint the front part of the stone. I wrote their names and years on the back side where the actual hand print is.

Overall, I'd say this is a fun craft for Father's Day if you're into making gifts. If your children are really young, however, I'd wait a few years. And most certainly do it outside! The dust really rises when you mix up the plaster, so much so that the kit includes a mask and gloves to wear. Plus, to clean out the bowl you mix it in, you'll want to do that in your yard with a hose because you don't want to rinse plaster down your sink or you'll ruin your plumbing. But as long as you can go outside and your kids are at least 3 (or so) years old, it's a fun way to make a personal Fathers Day gift. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Airplane Theme Party Ideas

An airplane themed birthday party is perfect for young kids and easy to host

Henry turned five on May 16, and I think that's when the shift officially starts: when birthday parties start being for and about the child instead of the parents. I wrote this post on Henry's first birthday party four years ago, and this one on Otto's lumberjack themed first birthday party. Without question, those parties were for us as parents! Sure, there were kids there. But we had friends over who didn't even have kids stop by too, and plenty of food and alcohol for all. The parties were so much work that I vowed I wouldn't throw another big party until my child was old enough to ask for one and tell me who they wanted to invite. Well, low and behold, Henry asked for a party this year, and also had names of his friends at school whom he wanted to invite. He met my criterion for hosting a party! Since the boy loves airplanes, we decided to host it at an airplane museum and make it airplane themed. These are all the airplane themed party ideas we implemented for his fifth birthday bash. *affiliate links used*

I definitely did NOT want all these kids (we had about 50 people show up to this party) running around my house. In mid May in Texas, it could be either hot or rainy or both or have just rained, making our backyard a mud pit... And then all those rascals would track mud all over my house! Nope, I'm a fan of hosting a party at a location. Sure it's a tad more expensive, but you don't need to clean before or clean up after, and that's a major win in my book. We picked out the plane museum at Dallas Love Field because they have a play area for the kids to run off all the sugar. It's indoors so it can rain or be 95 and humid or both. His friends could bring their siblings and they'd have fun too - I absolutely can't stand it when a birthday party invitation is only for the child listed and no siblings can come, but parents are expected to stay and monitor their child! What are we supposed to do with the siblings?! Obviously, with four kids close in age, we can't attend those parties and it makes all family members welcome to any party we host, because we understand the struggle.

Cloud balloons
Airplane balloons
Something that was cool about the flight museum was that we could still be in charge of decorations. This is great because 1) it keeps costs down. Ever notice how expensive those "all inclusive" packages are at various children's play areas? Sure it's nice to not *have* to do anything but write a check but holy cow, they pan out to like $50 a head per kid for a slice of pizza and a piece of dry cake. No thanks. 2) we got to keep creative control over what decorations were used so that Henry's personality could come out. In an Amazon Prime age, it's easy to find affordable decorations for whatever party theme you want, and find just the style you're looking for too.

Here are links to the stuff we picked out:
plates napkins, cups and flatware (I'd also recommend getting additional plates and napkins as people use more than one of those!)
party favor bags
favors for the party bags - little airplane gliders
photo props/table decorations
Our cake and cookie designer (if you live in Dallas, use her - she is absolutely fabulous!)

All the party ideas and supplies you need for an airplane themed birthday party, great for toddlers, young kids and first birthday party themes
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The airplane theme was fun for a 5 year old birthday party, and the location was great! I highly recommend hosting a party AT a location instead of at your house if you want to keep messes down. When you can bring in all your own decorations, food and cake, it also helps to keep the costs down. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Blackberry Sangria

This recipe is delicious for parties and perfect for warmer summer months

I never understood why people liked blackberries until I moved to Texas. When blackberries are in season here (spring to early summer) they are so. good. I mean, probably my favorite berry, and that's saying a lot from someone who doesn't much care for fruit! I'm a red wine lover, but in the hot spring and summer months, I want a cold beverage, not a room temp spicy red. This is the best of both worlds! Plus it looks fancy, so this blackberry sangria is even more fun to serve at a dinner party than simply popping open a nice bottle of red. If you want a delicious way to enjoy red wine in the summer, you've got to try this blackberry sangria recipe!

I'm not a real big fan of sweet drinks, so for me the key to this recipe is using a mid-grade bottle of wine (not cheap but not total junk either) that's fruity but on the dry side. A lighter cab or a Pinot Noir would be great. Everyone had their own idea of what "mid grade" means in terms of wine, but for me it's one that retails for $12-$15. Twelve if it's on sale, more like $15 if it's full price. But if mid-grade wine is more expensive to you, by all means, get what you're used to! I don't really like cheaper wine, although I know stores like Trader Joe's sells it for much less than that, and they have a decent selection of wine. Don't go using the two buck chuck on this recipe though! In fact, if you're older than college age, just don't buy or drink that stuff ever. Yuck.

Now that it's clear I'm anti-super-cheap wine, let's get to this recipe! Here's how you make blackberry sangria:
- one bottle of light(er) red wine (such as Pinot Noir)
- 1 cup blackberry brandy
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- one apple, cut into thin slices
- 2 pints blackberries; one package kept whole for garnish, the other muddled (mushed and mashed up)
- large pitcher
- ice

Blackberry sangria made with red wine is light and refreshing
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Mix all the ingredients together but hold back on one package of the blackberries. Put in the fridge to cool for at least 4 hours. Serve over ice, adding a few of the fresh blackberries for garnish. The key is letting the sangria get cold but also giving it enough time for all the flavors to develop and steep together. That's it! This blackberry sangria is so simple, yet so tasty and refreshing on a hot summer day. Enjoy!