# camping-themed baby shower for Bryan and Robbi (Tulsa Trip, part 2)

The purpose of my visit to Tulsa wasn’t just to stock up on Mexican food and Aunt NoNo time. It was to co-host a baby shower for my brother and his wife with my sister!

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Bryan and Robbi are due in April with their first, a boy. Their nursery is camping themed, so Booh and I wanted to mirror that in the shower. Here are all the details, starting with the decorations.

Like the shower I threw for Booh when she had Linc, we did a garland of clothes that made for a cute present-opening backdrop, as well as bonus gifts for them to take home.

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All of the clothes were outdoor- or camping-themed. This Utah girl especially likes all of the flannel numbers.

As you walked in, we had a camping alphabet book we re-purposed as the guest book. We also rifled through Lily and Linc’s toys to use this awesome Land of Nod campfire set as the center of the present drop-off.

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Also, this Land of Nod teepee.

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The tables were lined with camping-themed books (more bonus gifts) and our four shower activities. More on those in a minute.

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The food was all on the kitchen island. (Seriously, get a look at Booh’s new kitchen! Gor-geous!)

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We made a big batch of my dad’s famous salsa, which we had him test upon arrival.

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And these cheese balls that look like pine cones (or hedgehogs, which still fit the woodland theme).

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We also made “camp roll” sandwich pinwheels a la The Pioneer Woman

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…and fruit arrows. The strawberries staining the tips blood red was a nice realistic touch by Booh. haha

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Lily and I made the campfire cake, which was soooo fun.

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We used my favorite chocolate cake recipe and my favorite chocolate buttercream recipe.

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The logs are Pepperidge Farm’s chocolate pirouette cookies and the flames are made of butterscotch and cinnamon hard candies. Crush five candies of each flavor together in a bag, pour on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet that’s been sprayed with baking spray. Bake at 350-degrees for 6-8 minutes. Let cool completely and then break into shards.

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The effect is so cool.

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Definitely a triumph for us gals who love to bake.

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The shower favor was a build-your-own trail mix bar. Happy Trails!

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Booh found some really fun critter-themed games online that I made using some free woodland fonts.

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The first we named “Who’s Your Daddy,” where you had to match the baby animal to its parent. The second was called “The Waiting Game,” where you had to match the animal to the number of days it gestates. Not so easy.

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Lily made an answer board and was very official in calling them out so everyone could grade their papers.

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The third activity wasn’t really a game, but a letter from Camp Jackson where you could pass on well wishes to the baby. Lily’s was by far the sweetest.

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The “Build a Baby” stations we had around the tables were the funniest activity.

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Two pictures, a pair of scissors and endless laughs.

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And then it was time for gifts!

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I loved the OSU basketball shorts (a staple of Bryan’s own wardrobe)…

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…and the high-tops. Baby Jackson’s all ready for the court/field.

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Their sweet gifts were a great mix of practical and fun sent from family near and far.

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Especially this double-sided game-day blanket.

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There were a few gifts whose cards made me cry…

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…but it was all smiles and “oh-how-cute”s otherwise.

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Then it was time for pictures, like our intentionally-closed-eye favorite.

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And baby-kicking time…

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…and sleeping in the teepee time.

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What started as an innocent sibling selfie turned into a riot.

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Overall, it was the perfect afternoon with family celebrating the newest addition to the team. We love you, Bryan and Robbi, and can’t wait to meet Baby Jackson in a few short weeks!

(And big props to Booh, my co-host and partner-in-all-crimes, in making this happen. I love celebrating anything with you.)

Friday Five: Etsy Anniversary

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

Hey, guys…guess what?

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My Etsy Shop turned one last week!

Can you believe it? I can’t. (Where are the cupcakes?)

It’s been quite a year since I made that first announcement.  I went into it with pretty low expectations. I knew that with a full-time job I wouldn’t have the hours dedicated to make this my top priority, so other than putting up my prints on pinterest, I haven’t done much to market the site. And yet, to me, it’s done pretty well. I’ve had over 60 individual print orders, 7,000 views, orders shipped across the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia, and hundreds of “likes” on the page. It’s been hard work at times to juggle everything, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Let’s celebrate with a promotion, shall we? Happy shopping!

Order by March, 13, 2015 and receive 20% off using the promo code PEAS1!

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

5.  Julia Child’s Estate is No Joke

Apparently Julia Child’s estate owns everything she ever said. I learned this when an attorney contacted me asking that I remove my Julia Child quote print from my site before any legal action was required. Uh, ok, you don’t need to say anything else. It’s too bad, because she had some beautiful quotes that everyone should have on their walls. (My sites’s offending quote? “A party without cake is just a meeting”… all rights reserved for the Julia Child Estate.)

4. I Need to be Creative

When I was still working at USU, this shop was my special place. I would come home, make prints and feel inspired and fulfilled. Especially after looking at spreadsheets all day. Now that I’m back with NWS, I’m around creative people and projects all day, but it’s still fun for me to dive into this in the evenings a few times a week.

3. New Friends are Good Friends

Etsy is a community and I’ve met so many great people (and repeat buyers) through this entire process. It’s fabulous. We’ve shared travel stories, become Facebook friends, and emailed back-and-forth for days. These are good people and I’m happy to be part of this online hub.

2. People Love Themselves Some Star Wars

My top selling print? This Star Wars nursery print. I had to print them in bulk because I had so many people order them. Not complaining, but….really?

1.  This shop…

This is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks. This is the kick in the pants I needed to do something for me. This makes me want to be creative all day. This allows me to look at prints in magazines or online and say “I can do that too.” This makes me want to dream up new prints and make them a reality. This makes me wish I had an extra 10 hours each day. This makes me think of my grandpa and his business. This makes me wish I understood more about graphic design. This makes me happy. This makes me hesitant to do our taxes. This makes me want to learn more and more. This is…wonderful.

Thank you for being part of the Pea Patch with me. <Insert all the feelings.>

# a secret revealed

You know that nervous, anxious, bubbly feeling you have right before you reveal a surprise or a secret? That’s me right now. I’m equal parts thrilled and terrified to share with the world a project that’s been on my heart and taking over my free time for the last two months. It’s scary to be vulnerable—to put yourself out there. But, sometimes you have to jump and, like the lifeguard who stood next to me on the high diving board and simultaneously held my hand and scarred me for life, I’m jumping on “two.” Why wait for “three?”

So here’s the moment you I have been waiting for….

 

:::::::::: DRUMROLL ::::::::::

 

Welcome to my very own Etsy shop: Pea Patch Designs!

Grand Opening Announcement

I’ve been making custom, personalized prints for my family and friends for years and I finally decided to listen to them (and my inner cheerleader) and start selling them. It was one of my resolutions back in January, but I didn’t really set a deadline for the project until I was offered a job two weeks ago. It suddenly felt like now or never.

The shop speaks for itself and I’d love for you to check out my offerings, but first I want to speak about the name.

Why “Pea Patch?”

Last year when I lost my grandfather, I came back home with a clear sense of purpose to live a better, more-fulfilling life. I wanted to pursue the things that made me happy—find my creative outlets—and invest in the people I love most. It’s the way he lived his entire life. One of the things I always admired about him was a side business he started late in life called Fish-N-Hunt. After witnessing a friend suffer a sting ray strike while wadefishing, he began designing and selling safety gear. (Read the last five paragraphs of this story for more info on that.) And he did all of this while still working his insurance job. It began as a hobby, his own creative outlet, that developed into a thriving business that now sells internationally!

But they had some humble beginnings—traveling around to fishing and hunting shows to spread the word. It’s inspiring to think of that passion, that confidence, the entrepreneurial spirit, that leap of faith. Especially when it was pre-internet, pre-social media…pre-easy.

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All I had to do was open an online shop. I didn’t even have to get out of my pajamas. What was I waiting for? How hard could it be?

Back to the name. Since I drew my inspiration from Pops, I wanted the name to reflect him in some way. “Fish-N-Hunt” doesn’t exactly translate to my product, but his nickname for their home, their family, did. You see, “Pops” is really “Paul” and he married Pat, and they had Paula, Pam, Phil and Patrick. Add those names to their last (Perrin) and you’ve got yourself a lot of “P’s.” I don’t know when it started, but somewhere along the way they became known as the “P-Patch.” And just like it was to them, I wanted my Pea Patch to be a safe haven, a place where I could be me and do what I love to do. There’s another p-word that describes the name to me: Perfect. How great did Pops look with his Pea Patch wind sock?

Pops and the Pea Pods

I had some amazing help from my dear friend and former colleague Maria who designed this beautiful logo. Guys, she DREW the pea pod. She HAND-LETTERED the words. She perfectly captured the whimsy I had in mind and I’m absolutely in love with her work, which she also shares online on her website and through her amazing wedding invitations at “To Have and To Fold.” I love creative people.

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Please feel free to browse my new shop and help me spread the word. (Family and Friends: I’ll be sending out an email you can easily forward to your contacts shortly.) I’m offering a Grand Opening discount for the first five days we’re open. Receive 20% off your order when using the promo code ILOVEPEAS. 

Oh, and since we’re all friends here, please let me know if you see any errors on the site. I can’t tell you how many times I hastily typed “Please massage me,” when all I wanted was a message. 

Welcome to the Pea Patch—I’m so glad we’re here together.

Order Offer

# trash

This blog contains both the everything and the nothing in my life. There are days where I’ve written about the people and moments that change me forever. And then there are days like today, where I’m going to write about …. trash.

Specifically, kitchen trash.

I was going to group this into a post about things I’ve learned during my first Utah winter, but it wasn’t fair to this culinary epiphany. It deserves a call to action all its own.

But, first, some background:

1. I’ve always had minimal counter space in my kitchens. In one apartment in particular, no counter space at all!

2. I love to clean as I go when cooking. This is usually because I don’t have a lot of room for messes.

3. When I clean as I go, I’m constantly tipping the top of the trash to discard items, which then requires me to rinse/wash my hands and get back to the cooking. I’m not a total germaphobe, but I’m also not going to touch the trash can and then keep preparing food like nothing happened. And if you do, don’t tell me.

This is where things started to get tricky. Because when the outside temperatures are in the single digits, or lower, each night. And the air inside my house is so dry. It wreaks havoc on my hands. They become desert wastelands with cracks around the nails. I even have lotion next to every sink so I can lock in whatever moisture I can get. But, basically, I needed to stop washing them so much. Can you see my dilemma now?

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but what I needed was something I have watched Rachael Ray do on her cooking shows for years. …use a trash bowl.  And I had the perfect bowl — one from a hand-me-down Tupperware set my aunt gave me when I went to college. It’s the only bowl left standing from the set and I’ve been holding on for sentimental reasons. (shocker.) When I was little, she would make homemade popcorn for our movie nights and this is the bowl she’d put it in. Yes, it’s a bowl. Yes, I’m crazy. Moving on…

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Now, this puppy sits on my counter for everything I make. All food trash goes in (usually with a paper towel in the bottom for easy removal) with NO trips to the actual trash can. Then, when I’m finished, I take the bowl outside to our big trash and dump it by tugging on the paper towel. And THEN I wash my hands…once, instead of 10+ times. Bonus: No smelly food trash in the house. Ever. Can you hear that chorus of angels?

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This might sound stupid, but it’s changed my life. One of my favorite bloggers even wrote about the importance of a trash bowl in her Baking 101 post. You can even BUY Rachael Ray’s branded trash bowls. Say whaa? Don’t do that. Everyone has a bowl around — one they don’t use, one that perhaps holds sentimental value. Put it to good use! Save the hands! Viva la trash! Try it today.

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And, yes, there is usually chopped garlic and shredded cheese on our cutting boards. Ah, the life of a vegetarian.

Friday Five: Gallery Wall (how-to)

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

If I could describe myself in two words I’d probably choose “sentimental” and “photo-holic.” In a dream world, dream house, I’d have photos e v e r y w h e r e. So many photos, so little wall space.

In Virginia, I hung a gallery wall of photos over my computer in the study and I absolutely loved it, since it’s where I spend most of my time. Our last visitor of the year (I’m guessing) comes this weekend, so I wanted to get jumping on our Utah gallery wall. And just like last time, I wanted to hang it over my computer where I can enjoy it every single day. Here’s how to put up your own gallery wall, in 5-ish easy steps:

5. Collect what you want to showcase

I recommend a variety of frame shapes and sizes, as well as a mix of photos and other sentimental items. I also like sticking with one frame color. I prefer the contrast of black frames, but an all-white gallery wall looks amazing too.

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4. Finalize a layout

For this step, I measured the length of wall space I wanted to cover and then moved frames around on the floor until I found something that worked. I was careful to spread out the color (a recurring turquoise blue for mine) and photos, and also knew I didn’t want to have any area be longer than around 3 frames since it was going over my computer monitor.

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3. Cut and Paste

I trace each frame on old newspaper and then arrange the papers on the wall.

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It starts to feel a little John Nash/A Beautiful Mind-y, but don’t worry. This allows you to rearrange an indefinite amount of times before nailing any holes in your wall.

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2. Measure…twice

I measure where each nail should be on the back of the frame, then measure again….then make a note where that lines up on the newspaper version, measure again…and then finally hammer it in. #productplacement

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Then, with the newspaper still hanging, I hang the frame over it to see that I’m in the right place. If not, take it down and move the nail. (What’s one or two more holes at this point?) You can see little hints of the newspaper peeping out from behind the frames, but mostly they’re spot on.

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1. Finito!

When all nails are in, I remove all of the frames (one at a time), strip down the newspaper and hang the frame back on the wall. Easy peasy! And then you can step back and admire your handiwork.

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The best part about gallery walls is that nothing has to be perfect. It’s all about the collection of special items…like favorite moments and people from your wedding…

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autographed watercolor art from your niece…

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notes of encouragement from your mom the day you left home for college…

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childhood nostalgia and family photos that now need to be updated

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and wonderful gifts, like this hand-sewn beauty from my friend Elizabeth!

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I’m so very pleased with how this gallery wall turned out and look forward to adding items here and there, at least while we’re in this house. I dream of having a long hallway covered with frames someday, but until then, this fits the bill perfectly.

Have some free wall space? Dig out those family photos and treasures and get ’em up where you can enjoy them! This is a very gratifying weekend project.

{Sorry for the bad photos. I did most of this at night with a crazy overhead light, forcing me to use the….*gasp!* flash.}

# tis the season (or not)

Halloween is today. I get it. I really do. And Thanksgiving is a month away still. Yep – I got that too.

I had good intentions for Halloween. We wanted to carve pumpkins. There was going to be something pumpkin-flavored baking away right now. But gigs, doggie procedures, work and life got in the way.

And like your local CVS store, I’ve got Christmas on my mind anyway.

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Circa 2007, P.L. (Pre-Lily)

It’s a sickness. I start thinking about Christmas earlier and earlier each year. I crave the music, the merriment, the food…I just can’t be patient.

Joe and I have many conversations about family traditions—what we did as children during holidays and what we want to do as our own little family. There are so many wonderful traditions that started in my childhood that I’ve adopted in adulthood. I think it came from spending a few holidays away from family that made me insistent to make the familiar tastes, smells and actions part of my Christmas, no matter where I am.

We have culinary traditions: mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, cranberry orange cookies, ebelskivers, paninis, peppermint bark, oh my! #drool

Cinnamon Rolls

We have verbal traditions: the annual race to say “Christmas Eve Gift” first

We also have decorating traditions.

My family has always gone big when it comes to decorating for Christmas. As a child, my parents collected nutcrackers and nativity scenes. We kids were each given an ornament every year. My mom and Mimi also handmade our stockings using the popular Bucilla kits.

My dad now collects ornaments from trips and schools that hold special meaning. My aunt has a stunning array of decorations and puts together a mean Christmas dining room table. Memaw has a Christmas village complete with fake snow. My sister has the most beautiful array of ornaments.

Christmas Decor

This is where I have fallen behind in my Christmas-loving spirit. We have a wreath and a tree, which we decorate with a set of the original soft ornaments that I had a child (which I adore), but that’s about the extent of it. Joe and I don’t even have stockings, though the dog does thanks to my sister. And now that we’re past our apartment days and Christmases at home are more and more likely now that he works for a Division I school (thanks, Bowl Games), I want to make it look like Christmas as much as possible.

I’ve started thinking about what Christmas is to me, what does it look like? It’s home. It’s bright. It’s merry. It’s special. It’s whimsical. It’s from the heart. Then I started thinking about what decorations embody those ideas and I came up with two pursuits:

1. Stockings

As much as I like the stitched stockings of Pottery Barn and Garnet Hill, they would never capture Christmas for me like the original handmade stockings of my childhood. I couldn’t strip my Mom’s or Mimi’s mantles, so I began searching for Bucilla stocking kits online. And then my mom announced she is no longer in the stocking-making biz. #sadtrombone But, have no fear, Christmasholics! I realized you can buy them pre-made on Etsy and have them customized. Perfect. I’ve already found one and it’s on its way! Can’t wait to have it hanging…in just a few short weeks! (ha!) Joe opted for a traditional stocking…no whimsy needed, thankyouverymuch.

2. A collection of some sort

After ogling my great aunt’s, aunt’s and sister’s santas, snowmen and elves for years, I feel ready to start a collection for me and Joe. Unfortunately, a lot of the companies that made the decorations my family has been collecting are now out of business. I’ve had to look for a new line that fit the bill of bright and whimsical and I think I’ve found it in Jim Shore. Ironically, my sister started collecting him a few years ago, but she’s willing to share her addiction and I’m thankful. Just look at these beauties!

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There are so many we like. I love the nod to quilting patterns and bold colors. They also have a line of Santas from around the world and Santas that depict popular carols. Too cute! I thought Joe and I could buy one piece a year, or something like that. I’m not looking to go crazy, just something to start together that’s “us” and “Christmas” all in one. And to brighten up the joint. To start, we chose the Irish Santa as a nod to our dual Celtic roots.

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We’re well on our way. Just call me Marci Stewart.

What do you think? What are your traditions, new or old? Any Christmas decorations you think I should consider? What is Christmas to you? Or can you even talk about it yet? Oh, okay, fine…Trick or Treat! Please excuse the demon eyes.

Halloween