Saturday, May 31, 2014

Happy Birthday!

I am guilty! I love throwing a great party for my Lyric. I always said I wouldn't go overboard, but I always do. Pinterest has become my best friend and I have 2 built in party planners who have the best ideas ever. Yep, that would be mom and Brittany, but don't tell them I told you so.

Lyric's THIRD birthday is coming up. Can you believe that? Time flies! His first birthday party went along with his name sake, and I chose a whimsical rock star theme. We used bright colors, some neon, instrument decor, etc. I made the cake with my mom, but you would never know. Yes, I just bragged  a little. I used the church as my venue (which we will be doing again this year), and we set out a pool and water table for outdoor fun. We grilled hot dogs and burgers for our guests, and had several craft stations for our kiddos to enjoy. They could create their own guitar, decorate a guitar cookie, make a magnet, and some other stuff, too! My favorite part was the photo booth. Between Dollar Tree and a few garage sales, we had some neat props to use. Overboard? Oh yes. Too much for a one year old to remember? Absolutely. BUT- I wouldn't have it any other way. You'll find some pictures below of Lyric's Rockin' First Birthday!

His second birthday party was just as big of a production, but I paid someone to clean up all of the mess! Lyric loves animals, especially farm animals, so a farm party it was. We chose to have it at the Louisiana Children's Museum located in beautiful downtown New Orleans. We paid $195, and I considered that a great deal for the service and playtime our guests received. If you are interested in any of the packages, you can visit this link. I used Pinterest again to help with some ideas. Our food was themed, so I stuck with generally inexpensive food that was yummy and creative: chicken salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken feed (Chex Mix), veggie garden (Veggie Straws). Barn yard humor anyone? Top them off with tiny chalkboard easels I bought from Michael's for $1, and VOILA! I also created my own barn backdrop that was easy to transport and can be seen below. I always use Oriental Trading Company for my cute favors, Dollar Tree for table clothes, napkins, and serving wear, and thrift store/garage sale finds for most props and decor. I ordered basic cupcakes from Sams for around $20 (some of the tastiest cupcakes, seriously). The cute little guys sticking out of the them were ordered from Etsy. These were my splurge. Check out the pictures below!

  • Use what you already have, you'd be surprised!
  • Budget, and stick to it. You can look like you have a big budget without spending a boat load!
  • Provide yourself LOTS of time to buy. I just bought favors for Lyric's 3rd birthday party. I'll buy some decorations when we get our next pay check, etc. His birthday isn't until July.
  • Plan ahead of time. The more time you have to shop around for your theme, the cuter your party will be!

Happy Birthday planning, shopping, and celebrating to you!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Makin' Groceries: Tips From a Frugal Nola Momma

I wouldn’t be a Ray girl if I didn’t have the sudden urge to share about my frugal finds! So today, in my first official “Rayality” blog, I will do just that! Growing up, my parents did the absolute best that they could with what they had. We weren’t that family that went to Disney 3 times a year, we didn’t always have the fanciest cars or shoes, but we were blessed! From tithing to grocery shopping, one of the many ways that my parents have taught us how to be good stewards with what we have been blessed with is HOW they spent money. As a young parent working full time in a money hungry world, I have to be a good steward with the money I earn. I would love to be able to walk into Whole Foods, fill up my buggy, and move on....but I can't! That's just reality, and that's okay. I try to keep Lyric's treats as healthy as possible. Most of his favorites are listed below.

One of my favorite stores is Big Lots. Yes, I know, not the fanciest, but I’ve already explained that part. You can get great brand name foods at a fraction of the Walmart price. Since Lyric has started eating solids, I try my best to buy snacks at Big Lots. It can save me anywhere from $15-$25 every few weeks. Next time you head out to "make groceries", like we say here in New Orleans, swing by your local Big Lots. Here are some comparisons!
Walmart Price: $3.98

Walmart Price: $2.98

Walmart Price: $2.97

Walmart Price: $2.48

Friday, May 9, 2014

Tea Time

My church hosts an annual Spring Ladies' tea - last year was my first year attending and this year was my first time hosting a table.  Different ladies within the church can sign up to host a table - this includes decorating a table which is a major task because you have to have a full tea set, plates, glasses, decor, etc and inviting 6-8 ladies to sit with you.  It was a fun experience and I will definitely do it again!  I teamed up with my good friend, Kay, and we went with a whimsical, pastel theme.  I wish I would have taken more pictures of my table - but we had favors for each guest (nail polish) and got fresh flowers for the milk glass vases that circled the centerpiece which was a cluster of branches with flowers and bird cages.  (You can click on any image to make it larger!)

I used my wedding china which consists of white, platinum rimmed pieces.  Fun Fact: my thrifty mom found the FULL set at a yard sale when I was engaged, she bought the full set for around $45 and when we got home, we researched and found that its a Walbrzych Poland Platina Platinum Rimmed set - one tea cup is worth $35 and a dinner plate is on average $75.  The sugar bowl and lid is worth $89 - see here.  I have a full 8 pc set of tea cup, saucer, dessert plate, dinner plate, serving platter, serving bowl, creamer, and sugar bowl.  The only thing missing for the tea was a tea pot - so Kay found a white one at TJMaxx for $7.99!

The church ladies bring finger foods and the young men of the church serve the foods in courses to each table.  This year we had chicken salad sandwiches, danishes, pastries, tea biscuits, strawberry-cream cheese sandwiches, fruit, and more!  Each table is stocked with a variety of tea bags, cream, sugar, and iced water.

Starting last year, we created a bookmark that reflected the theme and poem that is read during the tea.  This year's them was "Spring Garden" and here is the bookmark.

We also played a game called LEMON, which is basically BINGO.  We had a hat contest and door prizes.  Then our pastor's wife, Melissa, shared a devotional.   It was lots of fun and of course I was recruited to take pictures.  Here are a few I took - of the tables, of some of the ladies who attended, and of my pastor's wife sharing the Word.

Click here for the LEMON game - all you have to do is print and its ready!  We used marshmallows as markers on the cards.