Project 31: The First Anniversary of My 30th Birthday

I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’ve ever actually been truly surprised.

But let me back up a bit, because the story is really in everything that led up to this moment. or just scroll down for photos

A couple weeks before, I was wearing my husband’s Garmin watch, basically to show off to him how many steps I assumed I took in a day as a full-time mommy… however he forgot to turn off the bluetooth that has it connected to his texts and emails. Well, as I’m standing in the kitchen, my arm buzzes and my mom’s name pops up with the subject “Project 31” and I look at my husband who quickly turns off the bluetooth. It only took me a few seconds to think they must be planning something for my 31st birthday. Everyone who knows me, knows I truly love surprises, so I made myself not think of the possibilities.

Now reading that first statement, you may think I’m crazy…

Fast forward to the weekend of and I haven’t seen or heard anything else – maybe that’s because, as I learned afterward, my husband changed my mom’s and best friend’s names in his phone to men’s names, Terry Groke (Torrie) and Clay Oar (Claire), to throw me off incase I saw anymore messages coming through! Haha!! Saturday morning (the day before my actual birthday), I’m nursing the baby in bed and KR runs into my room and says, “Stay in bed!” and scurries away again. Then comes a beautiful parade of my parents (who got in town the day before), my husband and my girls carrying a tray of a cinnamon roll with a candle lit in it and a hot cup of coffee (they know the way to my heart) with a card with #1 written on the envelope. After I read it, I immediately thought, “This is what ‘Project 31’ meant”, although I was a little confused. Written, was a riddle, and I was only able to figure out that we were having mimosas, but that’s basically my favorite way to start a Saturday… ok, really any day, so I was excited! We enjoyed a wonderful brunch at Black Sheep, one of the best rooftop restaurants on the river in Jax (in my opinion), and at the end of our meal, an envelope with #2 showed up in front of me…

“Fingers and toes, everybody knows, a day of pampering begins with these!”

Now, something that requires me to be gone for a couple hours and my husband to have all the kiddos, definitely requires a heads-up, so I was now sure this was the culmination of ‘Project 31’. I guess all of them understood it was my birthday because no one cried or begged to come along when we departed!

After my first mani/pedi sans kids in years – I’m talking at least 3 –  I’m getting ready to head home when another card with #3 is handed to me. You guys have to know how creative and thoughtful my mom is – she’s absolutely who I get it from.

“If we’re going to get it right, a light bite and an outfit for the night, must be the next adventure in sight”

I value our time together so much & she’s honestly one of my favorite people to hang out with, so I was so happy our day wasn’t over yet! I truly hope and pray that I have the true friendship with my children when they’re adults that I have with her. Even after a cocktail, being the over-thinker I am, just telling me to “get something you feel great in” was not enough information! I needed to know more , but knowing how important surprises are to me and not wanting to give it away, she just hands me another envelope with #4 written on it and says, “Here, maybe this will help.”

“Sweet fruit of the tree, fruit of the vine, ending the night with nibble to delight”

I looked at her with a blank stare… This is also the moment I realized I’m terrible at riddles unless they’re completely obvious. So then she says, “Well, maybe your husband is wanting to take you on a date to a nice restaurant tonight .” to which I replied, “You didn’t have to tell me the surprise!!” I know I sound ridiculous, just wait… I now decide on this amazing dress (which happens to be on major sale now) and we head home to get ready. Pretty quickly I’m giving marching orders, telling my parents they  need to get going so they can get the kids fed and back home to bed on time. I know, I know… basically the moment I recovered from my shock and surprise, I felt bad and we had a good laugh about it…


So here it is, the most thoughtful celebration of my life through a few photos…


Invitation design
The super talented designer behind Loved Baby Designs happens to be a lifelong friend of mine, and she nailed it as always, even though I didn’t see this until after


Curated Menu
 As I looked over the menu, I was told Zach was who I could thank for the amazing menu selection. For a little behind-the-scenes detail, I ordered the Herb Crusted NY Strip, Zach ordered the Blackened Atlantic Salmon, and we shared both – which he knows is my favorite thing to do!!

I suddenly figured out the last riddle when I saw the menu with wine pairings… “Sweet fruit of the tree (Candy APPLE Cafe), fruit of the vine (WINE)!!!


Moment of surprise
The look of genuine surprise… It might be blurry, but it reminds me that my dad was there to capture this moment. And looking at this brings me right back to that moment of seeing so many of my friends and family waiting for me when I walked in.


This night was the first time I realized how many great friends I’ve made in the 2 short years we’ve lived here.








I didn’t want to let go… I couldn’t believe she was here – she lives over 8 hours away people!!


Here she is… the bestie who drove all this way, with these giant balloons in the back of her car, because she knows me so well that I would want a good photo op!

I have to point out my favorite part about this picture though – do you see that guy back there and the way he’s looking at me?! Yep, ‘nough said…


Mommy Daughter posing with 31
Her mismatched socks… my heart.



Mommy with The Kraze posing in front of 31
I’m so thankful that the group who pulled this off, knows my heart well enough to know how much it would mean to me for my children to be a part of the experience… although we quickly sent them off to bed after they finished their dinner.


Trying to get me to stop being mommy long enough to decide what I want to order


My seriously wonderful, fun, supportive and dedicated parents… married almost 35 years!


My mother-in-law DROVE 9 hours to be here, so she could take the kids home and put them to bed because my husband couldn’t find a babysitter! The blessing of a wonderful MIL is not to be underestimated!!


3 generation photo
I’m told I look so much like my mom, and I know this little bit looks just like me when I was a little girl – I love that we captured a 3 generation photo!


So Candy Apple shares their building with this amazing “million dollar” candy store and the 2nd floor has ice-cream… Every time we’ve gone to this restaurant and Pops is in town, the 3 of them get ice-cream as soon as they’re finished with their dinner and tonight was no exception.


Group Photo
I was amazed this many friends showed up for me and without a baby on someone’s hip! Well except me, but even he is smiling… but that little red-faced girl who dropped her rainbow lollipop and cracked it just moments before this photo was taken – don’t worry, Pops got her a new one… grandparents!


Cheesecake decorated
Y’all, I love cheesecake so much that I wanted it as my wedding cake. Taking everyone’s advice but going against my better judgement, I opted for the traditional. A renewal will happen again one day (we just celebrated our 9 year anniversary so maybe next year for the decade mark) and I will have a giant 3-tier  cheesecake. For now, I’ll take it for my birthday every year!



Making a wish
Every time I make a wish, I actually say a prayer. Anyone else? It just doesn’t feel right – who in the world am I sending my wish to?



When you’re 40 weeks pregnant on your 30th birthday, THIS is how those who love you most, totally, absolutely make up for it, although it was 100% unexpected and not necessary! I am forever grateful and humbled by the love and effort that was put into this.


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Turning THREE with Minnie

So once upon a time, I thought I’d start an event styling business. I still may. I actually still believe in my vision for it very much – it just didn’t feel like the timing was right… At the time of this party, I shared all the details here, but I want it to have a home here with all their other parties before I move on to the next celebrations. So we’re going waaaaayy back to when The Kraze turned THREE.

I had so much fun planning this one! Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was a definite favorite at the time, but I had a deeper meaning behind the execution of this one. We’ll get to that. Being that Minnie was their favorite character and pink and purple were (are still) their favorite colors, we turned it into a MINNIE Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally (based on this episode). I’m breaking down all the details because there was a lot more strategic planning for this one because of what was surrounding the event. Scroll all the way down to the finish line to find out!

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Rose Gold Thanksgiving Tablescape & Menu

I truly love Thanksgiving – taking the time to focus on family and all that we have to be grateful for, with nothing to do other than just be together.  This year, I’m hosting the largest group I ever have: my parents + some extended family that’s traveling all the way from Texas (everyone wants to meet the new baby!). I like to keep Thanksgiving casual and inviting, but want to make it feel special too. A well thought out table, with a few personal touches, and a menu with something for everyone is a great way for everyone to know how happy you are they’re there.


via Rooms for Rent


The Tablescape

While I do love Thanksgiving, I’m just NOT  a fan of orange, brown, red and yellow together… but replace one or two with a little blush and suddenly I’m in love… I have these great moscow mule copper mugs I plan to use for drinking, simply because of their color – who says you can’t drink water or sweet tea out of a beautifully copper cup?!


via Courtney Browning


Pumpkins on the table may seem like an obvious choice for Thanksgiving, but when they’re white and have pink ribbons tied on the stem, they become unexpected.

The Kraze made these tapered candles with candle holders at school this week, and I think their precious artwork will be the perfect personal touch to the centerpiece.  To ground the tablescape and complete the look, I’ll be grabbing some eucalyptus while I’m at Trader Joe’s today (which they have a great price) to lay down the center.


via Camille Styles

To add to the personal touch, I’m making simple placemats made out of craft paper for everyone to write down what they’re thankful for to read aloud. I pulled out the girl’s lists from last year and they’re simply hilarious – also sweet but so funny!! Take a look…


  • Teddy bears
  • My puppy
  • Bunnies
  • Mommy
  • Kitties
  • Daddy
  • Squirrels
  • Butterflies
  • Bacon


  • Uncle Mike
  • Family
  • Rainbow (stuffed cat)
  • Handy Mandy
  • Candy
  • Living in my home
  • My dog
  • Painting

After looking back on last years’, I’ve decided this needs to become an annual thing that we keep and read again the next year!


via Country Living


The Menu

Main course:
  • Honey Baked Ham
  • Chicken and dressing
  • Twice-baked mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole
  • Baked broccoli
  • Dinner rolls
  • Italian Cream Cake
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Mini Pumpkin pies – I absolutely love this idea of making bite-sized desserts without the work of baking all those miniature pie crusts!


What to Wear

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Beauty Brunch – Celebrating the Beauty in Each Other

Spring is in full swing again, so I’m sharing a little get-together I did with my long time friend, Lillie Mundie, just in time for Mother’s Day! With everything in full bloom and the temperatures rising, this is the perfect time of year to gather your girlfriends for an al fresco brunch & bubbly and celebrate all things beauty . After the long winter days, spring is kind of like New Years for your skin, so I partnered with her to bring a personalized skincare prescription for each guest to take home to start the season off with naturally beautiful skin. Keep reading for how we incorporated beauty into every aspect of our brunch including the menu (beauty starts on the inside – in more ways than one), the abundant blooms, and a little more about the different skin care lines and get inspired for how you can celebrate your girlfriends with a glow-inducing Beauty Brunch!


Included on the RSVP card, we asked each guest what she wanted most for her skin so everyone could take home a skin care regimen that was personalized just for their goals.







Since we had a fairly large group (about 20 of us) with multiple tables, we had a separate food table for our guests to serve themselves. If you’re having a more intimate gathering, keeping the food on the table is always great so no-one has to leave to get seconds!






Mixing the floral dinnerware patterns kept it interesting and gives it a laid back feel.


I’m no floral expert, although I wish I were, but I’ll share a little flower arranging secret weapon with you guys…


I had actually tested one of the products before and really wasn’t all too impressed…  My lovely friend here filled me in on a little secret (which is probably not a secret to many at all)… it only really works if you use the whole line together, not just a single product! Once she gave me my own regimen to try, I was a believer and wanted to share it with my friends!


The Redefine regimen helps defend against and reduce the visible signs of aging for noticeably firmer, smoother, flawless-looking skin. The Reverse regimen visibly brightens and evens discolored skin for a more radiant, even complexion. The Unblemished regimen penetrates pores and eliminate most acne blemishes. The Soothe Regimen calms dry, chapped, cracked skin and reduce visible signs of redness.


That beautiful shade of pink drink is actually blood orange juice which we used as the mixer for mimosas.




I pre-filled the tea cups with greek yogurt and tied mini spoons to the handle.  Then we had our choice of skin-enriching berries to add in some sweet goodness. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, folic acid and fiber. Raspberries which are also vitamin C powerhouses and pomegranate seeds are tiny little superfoods that help reduce collagen breakdown. Blackberries are high in vitamin A, K and C (see a common theme here?), have a higher level of antioxidants than most other berries and omega-3s helping to fight free radicals, hydrate and rejuvenate skin.



On the menu



  • Sparkling water (Pellegrino is my drink of choice)
  • Strawberry Mint Infused waterso refreshing!
  • Coffee – what’s brunch without it AND you know it has antioxidants right?!
  • Blood orange juice and champagne for mimosas


 Whether you’re looking for a way to spoil your mama or celebrate your girlfriends, I hope you find beauty in the season and perhaps a little inspiration here.
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“A Tea for Two”: A Proper Tea Party Birthday

I’ve always loved making their parties a big to-do  for two reasons: 1) My girls are worth making a big to-do about (I’m sure every mom feels this way, as they should) and 2) Because every year it’s a chance for us to gather friends and family to show them how much we appreciate them being a part of our girls’ lives. The tea party theme was just perfect for their 2nd birthday, because their imaginations were really coming alive. Having pretend tea parties with their dolls & stuffed animals was quite a regular occurrence, and quite often, snack time & lunch were requested to be turned into tea parties at home. And you better hold that pinky out while you drink your tea!

I loved this play on words for The Kraze’s tea party more than I should admit. A Tea for Two because they were turning TWO or A Tea for Two because they are TWO of them?! I know… my background is marketing, ok?!

Thanks to Shawn Photography, we were able to capture all the little details & I was actually IN the pictures! I know you feel me moms – that’s why photography is my biggest budget category for their parties each year. We’ll treasure these photos forever.

Just the sweetest… Pops (my dad) in his bow tie, feeding his youngest granddaughter, while KR tries her hardest to get the baby’s shoe on backwards.


On the menu…

Assorted fruit: strawberries, grapes, raspberries & blackberries

Chicken salad croissant sandwiches

Pimento cheese croissant sandwiches

Banana & peanut butter mini sandwiches

Blueberry scones

Assorted petit fours

Having a few little boys as some of their closest friends – one of their favorite people in the world being their older cousin (this handsome boy here, trying to keep her from eating all the fruit before the guests even arrive) – I wanted to make sure the little gents felt properly dressed for the occasion by making bow ties for each of them to wear.


And for the girls, the dress form was adorned with pearl strands & flower crowns for each little girl to put on as soon as she arrived.



Yes, we had real (glass) tea cups and plates at our 2-year olds’ tea party… but we were on grass!


At the beginning of their party they opened one special gift each from Mommy & Daddy – their first real pearl necklaces to wear at their party.


Carrying on the tradition of singing to each of them individually, because everyone deserves their own birthday song!

Having a late October birthday in the south, you never know if it’s going to be chilly or warm… we ended up having to shed the jackets & throw the hair up… those poor little flushed cheeks – it was almost 90 degrees!!



More excited to “pap the baby’s head” (her little cousin), than she was to open presents.

And what’s a fancily clad tea party without the guests of honor adorning antique fascinators – made by yours truly.



My dress: Anthropologie (similar); My shoes: Michael Kors (similar); KR’s outfit: Target; Zoe’s outfit: Target; Their boots (similar)

Fascinators: handmade by me; Cake; Cake topper: DIY; ‘2’: DIY; All serveware: my own; Flowers: local farmers market; Tea pot warmer; adult tea cups & saucers: A mixture of my late grandmother’s and thrift store finds; mini tea cups for the kids: Espresso cups found at thrift store; Plastic plates, paper straws, doilies, burlap, pink tablecloth

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Valentine’s Day Party with a Purpose: Sharing the Love

I happen to love Valentines Day.  I LOVE love and the reminder to set time aside to show those we love the most. Of course, it’s easy to show our children how much we love them, but are we teaching them how to love others?  There are two things that 3-5 year olds totally understand: 1) Superheros and 2) wanting to feel loved. I’m a sucker for the children in children’s hospitals and their parents, and it was easy to explain that there are children in hospitals that have real battles that they bravely fight every day, which makes them REAL Superheroes… and we want them to know they’re not alone & they are loved.  We’re so thankful to Henri’s Bakery for hosting us and their ah-maz-ing treats.  Keep scrolling to find out what they were and see all the love-ly details and a couple free downloads at the end!
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