How a Las Vegas Vacation Made Me a Better Mom

Y’all.  If there is one thing I have realized since having three kids, it’s that sometimes you need to just get away from them.

Not even kidding.  I’ve found that I can be a better, {and much more patient} mom after an hour or so by myself.  Not by myself cooking or cleaning, but by myself doing whatever I want to do.  And sometimes that is a solo grocery store trip, sometimes it’s a 2 hour haircut.  And sometimes it’s a four day Las Vegas vacation!

Ok, so I wasn’t completely alone.  But a little Hubby-time wasn’t too shabby either! {*wink, wink*}  Dave had a conference at The Venetian in Las Vegas for a week, so I flew out for the first half of it with him.  My parents were saints, and kept all three kids so I could have a little R&R.  Dave had workshops all day, but we were able to spend the evenings together.

During the day I wandered up and down the strip, window shopping and people watching.  I did some computer work, and sat by one of the 6 pools on the hotel grounds.  The weather was perfect…about 80, but that dry desert heat was a nice reprieve from the humidity of the south.

There is a reason why the call Las Vegas “Disneyworld for Adults.”  Everywhere you look, there are people in costume, street shows and bigger than life animatronics!

IMG_4025

One of the coolest things about The Venetian is The Grand Canal Shoppes.  Almost every casino and hotel in Vegas has an indoor mall, but The Venetian has canals too!

The casinos obviously don’t want their patrons to leave {and stop spending money}, so you won’t find clocks or windows anywhere.  The shopping areas are made to look like they are outside, complete with outdoor cafes, and ceilings painted like the sky…with lighting cycles that mimic only daytime skies throughout the day.  The “sun” will set into a beautiful dusk, only to come right back up into a sunrise before morphing into full-blown daytime.

So when I walked through the Canal Shoppes, I really felt like I was strolling through Venice! The shoppes themselves weren’t really my style…lots of designer stores {you know, the ones that have three purses on display, and a security guard at the door}.  But it was fun seeing the mixture of people who looked like they could afford said purses, and the ones who may have stepped out of one of the “People of Walmart” videos…. Dave and I found a fun hat shop to play in, but stayed out of the stores for the most part!

The restaurants are to die for in Vegas….some of the best food in the world.  But also some of the loftiest prices too!  I was under the impression that staying and eating in Vegas was relatively inexpensive, with the casinos wanting their patrons to spend money gambling.  But I think the $5 buffets and “stay one night, get three free” days are over.  There are SO many other entertainment choices in Vegas now other than gambling, that people are coming from all over the world for the shows and food.

Last time we were there, Dave and I caught the “O” Circ de Soleil show at The Bellagio.  It was a mix of theatre, acrobatics, and synchronized swimming.  The floor of the show constantly changed back and forth between surface and water…to the point where your heart is thumping as acrobats flip off of trapezes headed straight for the “stage” with it turning into a giant pool of water, just in the nick of time.  Incredible!

This trip, we went a different direction in our entertainment and went to see The Blue Man Group.  It’s funny, because there are SO MANY inappropriate things about Vegas….between the bigger than life billboards featuring showgirls and the “Flippers” on the street that literally throw cards displaying naked women at you as you walk past.  We commented several times on the number of young children we saw with tourists.  However, The Blue Man Group Show was fantastic!  And the girls would have loved it!

It was equal parts rhythmic play on pipes and various spontaneous “instruments,” neon and black light illusions, and silent sketch comedy.  And lots of audience participation!

After a couple of days, including one at the spa, I was thoroughly rejuvenated and ready to go home to my Littles.  It’s amazing how much you can miss your babies in four short days!  I hopped a plane home, with a connection in Dallas.  During my layover, I wandered the airport shops, stumbling on these sweet cowboy-style rain boots!

A couple hours later, I was back home and ready to handle {with much more patience} life with three kiddos again!

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Apple Pie and Family {aka The Perfect Weekend}

* I was compensated and given the products mentioned in this post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.  As always, all opinions are 100% and my own!* 


A few weekends ago, we were finally able to get my entire family together for a Father’s Day celebration.  We had four generations in town, including my grandparents from Jacksonville and my aunt from Atlanta.  In the sweltering 100 degree heat, we lined everybody up and managed to still get some amazing pictures, courtesy of Rachel Weber Photography!

Apple Pie and Family

It was amazing to have everyone together again, especially my grandparents…who are the ones who started it all!  My kids just love them, and I love that they are able to have a relationship with their great-grandparents.

Hot Apple Pie from Bi-Lo and a Family Reunion!

It’s so inspiring to see them together…that they are still so in love after all these years.  I can only hope that Dave and I are like that 50 years from now too!

Hot Apple Pie from Bi-Lo and A Family Reunion!

It’s always a welcome challenge to feed a houseful of people.  Since this was a short visit, and oh-so hot…we opted for grilled chicken, watermelon and corn on the cob for dinner.

And for dessert?  Hot apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream!

But there was no way I had time to bake a homemade apple pie…so I had to go for second best.  I picked up an 8” Fresh Baked Apple Pie with Caramel Drizzle from the Bi-Lo down the street.  For $5 {all summer long}, it was a great deal and fed our whole gang!

Bi-Lo’s Apple Pie is made with crisp apples, picked at the peak of ripeness.  Every apple is carefully selected, cut and blended with sugar and warm cinnamon for a real homemade taste.  And my favorite part was the delicious caramel sauce that was drizzled on top of the pie while it was warm that brought out an amazing flavor combination.  It was the perfect sweet ending to our little family reunion!

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* I was compensated and given the products mentioned in this post for free in exchange for a review on my blog.  As always, all opinions are 100% and my own!* 

Don’t forget to enter my Giveaway this week for a Beach Day Prizepack including some brand new sunglasses!!

{From the Archives} Fireworks Teeshirt Tutorial

I thought I’d share a project that we did three years ago for the 4th of July.  It was featured over on Cheerios and Lattes that year, but I don’t think I ever shared the entire tutorial with y’all.  It’s a super simple Fireworks Teeshirt and Bunting tutorial, in case you need some last minute patriotic decor!!

Simple Fireworks Teeshirt Tutorial

Materials Needed:

  • blank tee shirt or white sheet {for bunting}
  • red, white, and blue fabric or tempera paint
  • 9 pipe cleaners
  • 3 plates or something to pour paint on
  • patriotic ribbon {for bunting}

Step By Step Simple Fireworks Teeshirt Tutorial

1. You may want to put some cardboard or newspaper inside your shirt and under your sheet to prevent the paint from bleeding through.  Put 3 pipe cleaners together and fold them in half.

2. Starting at the bended part, twist all three pipe cleaners at the same time…

3. Stop when you are about halfway down.

4.  Spread out the pipe cleaners until they all lay flat, with the twisted part becoming the handle for your stamp.

5. Put some paint on a paper plate and dip your fireworks stamp in it, making sure all of your pipe cleaners are evenly coated with paint.  Then stamp various areas of your shirt or sheet.

Simple Fireworks Bunting Tutorial

 I did one color at a time, repeating with a different color and moving the “stamp” a little so that the paint did not overlap {other than in the middle of the firework}.

Simple Fireworks Bunting Tutorial

This is the perfect project for little helpers because it’s pretty hard to mess up!
Simple Fireworks Bunting Tutorial

After your paint is completely dry, cut out your flags.  To do this, I measured, marked and cut parallel lines on my sheet that were 12 inches apart {or however long you want each triangle to be}.

Then, on each strip, make marks for how wide you want each triangle to be on either side {mine were 8 inches wide}, drawing diagonal lines to connect your marks.  Use pinking shears to cut out your triangles to discourage fraying.

Simple Fireworks Bunting Tutorial

Then sew or hot glue your triangles to your patriotic ribbon to create the bunting.  I sewed mine with a simple straight stitch.

Simple Fireworks Bunting Tutorial

Simple Fireworks Bunting Tutorial

Follow me on Instagram to see what our weekend festivities include.  Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

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{Cowboy Up} The Littlest Cowboy

I really hope you aren’t over the cowboy theme yet…I have just one last post for you today!  And honestly {and totally unbiasedly}, it’s my favorite!  Our family photographer, Rachel Weber Photography, is just a genius when it comes to capturing our family candidly.  She manages to get the most precious moments on camera.

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

And as much as I love seeing my kiddos smiling…sometimes the non-smiling pictures tell more of a story.

Cowboy Themed Birthday PartyYou can’t help but feel for him, right?  He just wanted some cake, and I kept making him “pose.” Haha!

Lincoln isn’t quite walking yet, but loves to “finger walk” with anyone who is willing.  I’m just waiting for the day when he lets go….

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

But for now, he is perfectly happy crawling!  And boy, is he fast!

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

I could not believe how tolerant he was of his cowboy hat!  He loves to wear hats {especially baseball caps}, but I wasn’t sure about the stiff cowboy hat and the long string.  But for the most part, he left it alone…which made for just precious pictures!  I found the boots at Hobby Lobby, and I made the cowboy vest myself!

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

Since Rachel has been photographing my kids since they were very young…they are super comfortable with her.  Some of my favorite sessions were our family pictures, and Lincoln’s newborn pictures.

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

Now that Lincoln is one, let me tell you a little bit about his little personality.

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

He simply adores his big sisters!  He doesn’t really have any clear words yet, but says “dayday” for JJ sometimes when Jayna is around.  He is cautious of Maggie {the dog}, and isn’t really sure what to think of her…but then again, neither does she!!  He barks {“arf arf”} when she is around.  Lincoln is really athletic for 12 months old…he throws mini footballs, can kick balls while finger walking, and is entertained for long stretches of time chasing balls while crawling.  He is a good eater, but doesn’t care for fruit…he’d rather eat Kale Chips {I swear!} than a strawberry!  But my favorite thing about him is his sweet, calm demeanor.  He is a happy baby who loves to snuggle and is very ticklish!

Cowboy Themed Birthday Party

I hope you’ve enjoyed experiencing Lincoln’s Cowboy First Birthday Party over the past couple of weeks!

Click here to see more posts about Lincoln’s cowboy party.

Subscribe to the blog or “like” Palmettos and Pigtails on Facebook to keep reading about our little Southern Life!

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Just an FYI, I’m selling most of the decor and party supplies that you’ve seen in the posts…it was really fun making them, but it’s time for someone else to enjoy!  Email me or leave a comment if interested!

{Cowboy Up} A Cowboy Party that Takes the Cake

Y’all, I don’t have a ton to say today.  We’ve had an exhausting week of Vacation Bible School, playdates, and Dave traveling.  So I’m gonna share this post with you and then enjoy the weekend with my family!  Today’s Cowboy Party topic? Cake!

We got Lincoln’s adorable western themed cake from Sweet Velvet Cakes.  It had a cowboy hat, a lasso and a bandana on it…super cute!  And let me tell you, that boy enjoyed that cake for about 40 minutes!

He took a few minutes to really get to the good stuff, but once he figured it out, it was a free for all!

So we positioned him at the edge of the pavilion, so he could watch all the kids play games and run through the western town…and he was perfectly content to nibble and observe!

He finally let me have a bite! Yum Yum!

Thanks to Rachel Weber Photography {and my mom!} for the awesome pics during his cake binge!

Have a terrific weekend!

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To see all the other Cowboy Party posts, click here!

{Cowboy Up} Cowboy Party Decor

Lincoln’s first birthday was the most fun I’ve had planning a party since Millie’s Mermaid Party.  I just love everything about planning a party.  The research, the planning, the details, the crafts.  Everything!  And planning a Cowboy Party was so fun.   I started the planning process by scouring the internet and Pinterest for ideas on food, games and decor.  I’ve said time and time again, I’m not really that creative…but I’m an excellent copycat!  Check out my Cowboy Up Pinterest Board to see all of my inspiration!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

Cowboy Gear

Our neighborhood has an awesome community center that is actually an old farmhouse, flanked by a big lawn and a pavilion with a gorgeous brick fireplace inside.  The day of the party was just perfect, blue skies and in the low 70’s.  So we put the food and the cowboy gear under the pavilion.

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

The kids donned cowboy hats, bandanas and mustaches for the full cowboy effect.  All of the “gear” was from Oriental Trading.

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

Photo Booth

Against the side of the pavilion, we set up a little photo booth area, complete with red/white/gray bunting, a wagon wheel and a hay bale.  And of course, a “WANTED” sign {made by Dave!}.  Our “hobo bag” party favors were additional props that some of the cowboys used.

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

Props

I put all of the games and activities out on the lawn, where they could be easily supervised by the parents that socialized around the edges of the lawn and under the pavilion.  In the middle of the lawn, I placed my Wild West Town.  Made out of appliance boxes {ask for them at Lowe’s}, I used sponges and paint for the brick print, and a full roll of paper towels dipped in brown paint to create the Log Cabin.  We used fake plants, kiddie rocking chairs and small barrels from around our house as props.  Unfortunately, I found that the black tempera paint turned out more gray {see the Jail}, so I used black permanent markers and stencils to create the sharp, black lettering {see the Bank}.  I cut around the bricks in the side of the jail so the kids could “break out” of jail.  If I were to make all of this again, I’d cover the inside back wall of each “building” with black/brown paper…I found that the lettering really detracted from the overall look!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

Games and Activities

We created a relay race for the kids in front of the Wild West Town.  I divided the kids into two groups, “the outlaws” and “the sheriffs.”  I filled 3 little canvas bags with cotton and drew dollar signs on them.  I told the kids that the “outlaws” were to take a bag of money and ride their stick horse down to the hay bale at the far end of the lawn, and put it in a basket.  Then they were to use the potato sacks to jump back to the start.  They got a head start, and then the “sheriffs” rode their horses down and got the bags out of the basket and jumped back to the start with the bags.  The object of the game was for the “outlaws” to get all the money in their basket {at the far end} and the “sheriffs” to get all of the money bags back to the starting line.  After a few rounds, all the kids got sheriff badges for their efforts!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

Dave also made a sawhorse “horse” for the kids to practice their lassoing skills with.  He put the wood together, and then I hot glued brown yarn for the mane and the tail.  We covered a hula hoop with thick twine from Hobby Lobby, and then secured some REALLY thick rope from Lowe’s to the lasso loop.  Extra rope was used for a couple of makeshift Tug-of-War games.

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

For the littlest cowpokes at the party, we filled up a bucket with sand and let ’em dig for gold!  I spray painted some rocks gold, and found some Western-themed small figurines and buried them all in the sand.  Kids of all ages ended up enjoying the hunt!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

Drinks

But my favorite element of our decor was the “Watering Hole.”  Dave built it out of pallets, and we covered the sign in clear chalkboard spray {allowing us to use the stand for lemonade sales later this summer!}.  We used mason jars covered in burlap and bandana strips as glassware, with fun paper straws of course!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

All the details of our son's Cowboy Party themed first birthday. Games, food and decor!

People just seemed to flock to the Waterin’ Hole…it was a Western Water Cooler, I guess! Stay tuned for one more post featuring the birthday boy!

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*All photos that are not watermarked are courtesy of Rachel Weber Photography.  She has photographed my children from birth, so it was only natural for her to capture the special moments of Lincoln’s Party!  I cropped and added borders to the images to make them more cohesive with the site. Check out her website for more of Rachel’s work!*

I’m linking up this week over at:

As well as over here!

{Cowboy Up} DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial

One of my favorite things about Lincoln’s cowboy-themed first birthday party was the fact that everyone got to get in character.  We supplied the hats, bandanas and mustaches for the guests, but our family searched for weeks before the party to find our perfect outfits!

I ordered the girls coordinating outfits on Zulily, but wasn’t sure about them arriving in time, so I made them each an outfit too.  The matching dresses ended up arriving just in time, so Jayna opted to wear that.  Millie chose to wear my outfit though!!  It’s one of my twirly skirts that I sell occasionally on Etsy.  I appliquéd the matching shirt.  Their cowgirl hats are from Tractor Supply.

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

Lincoln, on the other hand, was a bit harder to shop for.  I ordered his little cowboy hat off of Amazon, and his boots were an accidental find at Hobby Lobby.  But what was he going to wear?

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

I scoured Pinterest, but couldn’t find a Cowboy Vest that I liked, let alone a pattern.  So I decided to make my own.  First, I got one of his current onesies so I could figure out how big to make it.  I used butcher paper as my “pattern” and eye-balled how wide and tall to make it, taking seam allowances into consideration.  In hindsight, I wish I had added about an inch to both the width and height.  The vest fit him, but he won’t be able to use it for pretend play as a toddler or anything.

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

Here’s what my final measurements looked like for a size 12 month vest.  Again, if I were you, I think I’d add another inch to width and height for a better fit.

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

Trace your “patterns” onto your fabric, remembering that you will need two of the front panel…and they need to be mirror images.  When you are finished, the front pieces should fit perfectly.  It’s of if they overlap in the front a bit.  Cut a small dip on the back piece along the neckline.

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

Then, use some scrap fabric to  cut a 3″ tall rectangle that is a little wider than the top of the back of your vest.  This will be your fringe panel for the back.  Sew it on with a straight stitch as close to the raw edge as you can {make sure it’s straight!}

Take another 3″ high scrap of fabric and place it under the top of your front sections of the vest. Trace and cut, to form the front panels of fringe.

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

You’ve already sewn the back fringe panel on, do the same for the fringe panels on the front.  Straight stitch the panel to the top of the front of your vest.  Then sew the panel along the diagonal line {down the chest}.  Do not sew the side where the arms are going to go.  Then I sewed the front pieces to the back pieces {right sides together!}, and zig-zag stitched around all of the raw edges.  I made it a wide stitch, and wasn’t too careful and I ended up liking the imperfect-ness of it.  Very Cowboy.

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

If you have any other scraps available, feel free to cut out a pocket {a semi-circle} and a triangle of the same width.  Sew the triangle to the straight part of the semi-circle.  Zig-zag stitch across the top to finish the raw edge.  Position your pocket where you’d like it, pin and zig-zag stitch around the semi-circle, leaving the straight part un-sewn for a functional pocket.

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

Once everything is sewed on, you just need to cut your fringe!  Cut up to your seams, but be careful not to cross or snip any thread!

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

Adorable and really easy, right?  Ok, now for the good pictures.  I’ll let the professional take over from here….courtesy of Rachel Weber Photography.  I’ll take credit for the kid though!

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

DIY Cowboy Vest Tutorial for a Cowboy Themed First Birthday Party from Palmettos and Pigtails

Cutest ‘lil cowpoke around!

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I’m linking up here this week!

*Palmettos and Pigtails is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

As always, all opinions in the post are 100% my own.*

{Cowboy Up} Cowboy Party Food Ideas

Y’all.  Seriously. Get ready for some cowboy up in here.  Lincoln’s first birthday party was a huge success!  Cowboy hats and bandanas took over my brain, life and dining room table for a month before the party…so  over the next week or so, I’m gonna share everything with you!  We had our good friend and favorite family photographer, Rachel Weber Photography come out and take pictures during the party, and seriously…over a hundred fantastic shots!!! So, I’ve broken it up into a couple of different posts for ya…if you like what you see here, be sure to follow along or search “Cowboy Up” over on the right hand side of the page to see all of the posts, prep and DIY Cowboy Party Ideas!

DIY Cowboy Party Ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Although I’ve cropped some of the images to fit the style of the blog post, most of the images you see on this post were taken by Rachel Weber Photography.  She did Lincoln’s Newborn Photo Shoot, so I found it fitting that she document the First Birthday milestone too!

I threw in some of my family and friends’ photos too…but I watermarked those with my blog name!

DIY Cowboy Party Food Ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Our party was held at my neighborhood community center, which is an old farmhouse and a pavilion.  We put all the food {and seating} in the pavilion, and games and fun were outside on the Farmhouse lawn.  I served crock-pot chili with mini Trader Joe’s corn bread muffins.  I got the little chili bowls in the picture above from Hobby Lobby.  I ordered aluminum foil pans from Amazon, and used those as a tray/plate, with all of my food either being bite-sized or being in little bowls for easy eating.

I used my favors as a “centerpiece” on the food table.  They were little Hobo Sacks with a snack baggie of marshmallows, chocolate chips and Golden Grahams in a bandana, and tied to a branch with twine.

DIY Cowboy Party Food Ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Also on the menu were some finger foods for the toddlers {Goldfish, Veggie Straws, Mini Club Crackers, Quartered Grapes, Cubed Cheese}.  I also made little cups with Ranch dressing in the bottom and celery and carrot sticks sticking out for easy healthy snacking.  Pasta salad was in little cups, and mini macaroni and cheese bites were perfect for little {and big} hands.  Watermelon was a refreshing snack after the games!

DIY Cowboy Party Food Ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

The cake served as a “centerpiece” for the second food table, opposite a cute {and edible!} cactus made from the bottom of a pineapple, a huge cucumber, and mini cucumber {or pickle} arms stuck with toothpick ends.

DIY Cowboy Party Food Ideas from Palmettos and PigtailsDIY Cowboy Party Food Ideas from Palmettos and PigtailsCupcakes surrounded the smash cake for the guests to enjoy while Lincoln…well, smashed!  {Pictures of that, coming very soon!}

I used local mama Michelle from Sweet Velvet Cakes for both the smash cake and the cupcakes, and I was so pleased!  She was super affordable, and worked really closely with me to get the look I wanted {I required a rope, hat and bandana!}.  Everything was delicious, and so cute!

I made a custom bib for Lincoln to wear while he was smashing cake…

DIY Cowboy Party Food Ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

But my favorite project regarding the food was the silverware.  Since we went rustic, I ordered wooden silverware and bandana print napkins on Amazon.  I bought mustache and boot stamps, and let Millie and Jayna go to town hand-stamping the silverware!  They did an amazing job {and they loved helping out}!!

DIY Cowboy Party Food Ideas from Palmettos and Pigtails

Everything was perfect…we had just the right amount of food, and no leftovers!!

I hope you enjoyed my cowboy party food ideas…feel free to pin!  Stay tuned for the next post on my  DIY cowboy craftiness….

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Linking up here this week!

*Palmettos and Pigtails is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

As always, all opinions in the post are 100% my own.*

How I Lost 30 LBS in 15 weeks

Mornin’ y’all!

For those of you who know me personally, you already know that I am in the final stages of  losing ALL of my baby {and pre-baby} weight.  After the girls were born, I was able to lose the baby weight, but it took me a long time since I was attempting to do it all on my own.

This past January, I joined a local bootcamp class with some neighborhood friends twice a week.  I was super intimidated at first….sure I would be the chunkiest and most out-of-shape.  And I couldn’t even really use the “I just had a baby” excuse, as Lincoln was 8 months old!  But I showed up, and I had nothing to worry about.  It was mostly women, all shapes and sizes, and abilities.  We were all lined up on mats facing the instructor, so no one was really watching anyone but him.  The trainer pushes me further than I’d ever go myself, but doesn’t have that stereotypical military bootcamp style that I was terrified of.  He doesn’t yell at me at all, yet somehow I still want to do those 100 squats!!!

So I thought I’d give you some examples of the exercises that we do in a typical class.  Feel free to pin these for later…I like to pull them up on my computer when I workout at home for a quick guide.

I know it’s not healthy to obsess over daily weight fluctuations, but I find it extremely motivating to take complete measurements every month.  Luckily, my Bootcamp trainer does this for me, but here is an easy chart to print out…all you need is a fabric {flexible} measuring tape and a scale-use the same one every time!

Weight Loss and Measurement Progress Tracker

Source: To Insanity and Back

Click here to download and print the FREE measurement tracker.

And now for some workouts!

Here is the quick 6 minute arm workout that I do if I have no equipment and no time. Click Here to see clips of each of the 9 moves…

 Source: Lifting Revolution

This is a sample of what we do in Bootcamp…It’s intense and hard work, but everybody just pushes through at their own pace.

And on my off days, I try to make it to the gym and I do this treadmill routine {which I used when I rocked off 45 pounds after I had Jayna}.

Next week, when I’m back from Vegas, I’ll share with you the nutritional tricks I used to help me lose the baby weight!

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{Free Printables} The Best Chapter Books for Girls

One of my favorite school initiatives that Jayna has gotten into this year is reading 100 books per quarter.  Now, Jayna is quite the reader.  Despite only being in kindergarten, she can read on at least a 3rd grade level, maybe more.  Her favorite types of books to read are chapter mysteries, like A to Z MysteriesMagic Treehouse, and Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew {which are the elementary-aged adventures of our favorite female sleuth}.  I don’t mind them because quite often the mysteries involve learning about science, history or geography as well, not to mention problem solving skills.  And I love the vocabulary she learns….”Mom, do you know the difference between a tomb and a sarcophagus?”  Seriously.

Luckily, her school allows her to count each chapter as a book on her countdown each quarter, and she is well on her way to reading over 500 books/chapters this year!  And I have no doubt she will read even more this summer.  But to widen her reading scope, I’ve been searching for some new and different titles for her to enjoy….specifically chapter books for girls.  It’s tricky to find ones that are appropriate for 6 year olds {language, innuendo, intensity, protagonist’s attitude, etc.}.  Thank goodness for Pinterest.  Here are some sites I found that have hundreds of chapter books for girls listed!

Source: Real Food Enthusiast

Source: What Do We Do All Day

Source: Pragmatic Mom

Source: I Think We Could Be Friends

I love the age-appropriate descriptions on this site! Source: Modern Mrs. Darcy

I’m sure there are a ton more out there, but I thought these would be a great place to start!  And this summer, in addition to everything else on our Summer Bucket List , we’ll be reading 100 books!  And this year, I’m printing out two of my Summer Reading Checklists….one for the family, and one just for Jayna!

Free Printable Summer Reading Lists from PalmettosandPigtails.comI made these printable lists a couple of years ago…before Jayna was reading on her own.  It was so fun to keep track of the books we read over the summer. Click on the pictures to download the doc and print away!Free Printable Summer Reading Lists from PalmettosandPigtails.comFree Printable Summer Reading Lists from PalmettosandPigtails.comDo you love it?  PLEASE feel free to pin these!  {Hover over each with your mouse, and the little PIN button should show up automatically!}

What were your favorite books to read growing up?

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