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Valentine Tree

This post contains affiliate links.

We don’t typically decorate for Valentine’s Day, but as I was looking at branches I had spray-painted white for Kate’s Frozen 5th Birthday Party (that I’m still editing pictures for – recap post is coming, promise!), I realized they’d have a great second life as a Valentine Tree!  I’m not entirely sure that a “Valentine Tree” is even a thing, but we enjoyed the Thankful Tree we made for Thanksgiving so much I figured we’d make it a thing!

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

To make, I took tree branches spray-painted white with Rust-Oleum’s 2X spray paint in white semi-gloss, and wrapped a few sections of the branches in red and pink yarn for pops of color.  Next, I printed off some of my favorite family photos on standard white copy paper.  I used a large heart punch to trim the photos, and also punched heart shapes out of pink and red decorate paper to glue on to the back of the photos.  Lastly, I used a mini hole puncher to punch a hole to tie the heart photos to the branches with baker’s twine.

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

This faux cherry blossom arrangement and decorative “XOXO” plaque (both from Target) are great decorative accents to our little Valentine Tree:

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

I also snagged this clear glass vase fro Target for $5 – total steal!

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Create a DIY Valentine Tree from your favorite family photos. | All Things G&D

Like this project? Check out the All Things G&D DIY Gallery for more!

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Why I Love My Stitch Fix Stylist

I recently received my 8th Stitch Fix and I swear each month it gets better and better.  I’ve already raved about how much I love this service and overall concept in my Stitch Fix Review, but now I have to rave about my Stitch Fix Stylist.

I’ve had a lot of great ones over the past 8 months, but this one Stitch Fix Stylist – Sarah – really knocked it out of the park one month, so I requested to have her as my stylist every month versus getting a new one each fix.  In addition to having great taste, I love that I can write Sarah notes before each fix and she doesn’t judge me.  For example, after discovering some of the clothes in my previous fix to be too tight I sent her a message that went a little something like this:

“LOVED the clothes you chose for me, but the fitted pieces were too tight.  I’m still recovering from all of 2014 the holidays and am too damn stubborn hoping to drop a few pounds, so I don’t want to edit my size in my style profile.  Instead, can you please send me clothes that feel like pajamas loose-fitting items that hide my muffin top are still flattering and stylish?”

Sarah’s no fool.  She can read between the lines.

In response she sent me this:

A look at my 8th Stitch Fix, and why I love my Stitch Fix Stylist so much. | www.allthingsgd.com #stitchfix

A top so soft it feels like pajamas, and so flowy it hides all the flaws!  The front has this unique watercolor pattern in kind of a bib-style cut (see below) – totally not something I would ever take into the dressing room if I were shopping at a store, but once I put it on I really liked the effect.

A look at my 8th Stitch Fix, and why I love my Stitch Fix Stylist so much. | www.allthingsgd.com #stitchfix

It ends up being nice and roomy and flowy (and long) without looking like a tent because your eye mostly sees the pattern, and not so much all the extra fabric around it.  It’s also a little longer in the back than in the front, which I like, too.

A look at my 8th Stitch Fix, and why I love my Stitch Fix Stylist so much. | www.allthingsgd.com #stitchfix

A look at my 8th Stitch Fix, and why I love my Stitch Fix Stylist so much. | www.allthingsgd.com #stitchfix

Another major plus?  It doesn’t wrinkle easily!  One of the things I hate about long, flowy tops is when they get all wrinkled up at the bottom after you sit in them.  Not this shirt!  I took these pics after wearing this top all day (lots of sitting), followed by about 18 hours of it sitting balled up on the top of my dresser.  No ironing needed.

A look at my 8th Stitch Fix, and why I love my Stitch Fix Stylist so much. | www.allthingsgd.com #stitchfix

Thank you, Sarah, for another great fix!

Outfit Details
Top: Collective Concepts “Zoey Mixed Material Watercolor” via Stitch Fix
Jeans: Gap
Necklack: JCrew
Boots:  Arturo Chiang

New to Stitch Fix?  I’d love for you to use my referral link to sign up!  Singing up is free and you are not charged until you are ready to schedule your first “fix.”  But don’t wait too long – your new clothes are going to look great on you!

Want more info?  Check out my full Stitch Fix Review.

A look at my 8th Stitch Fix, and why I love my Stitch Fix Stylist so much. | www.allthingsgd.com #stitchfix

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Unexpected Wine Pairings

This is the post some of you have been waiting 7 years for.

When I first started blogging, I wasn’t shy about letting the internet know how much I love wine.

Since then, I get asked ALL THE TIME which wines I drink, what I recommend for a dinner party or girls’ night in, my favorite brands, blends, wineries, etc.  I’ve yet to address these questions on my blog for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. My tastes are always changing.
  2. I’ll pretty much drink anything.
  3. Sometimes I’m too over-wined to type.

When Homes.com (knowing I’m a wine lover on their team) asked me to do a post on “Unexpected Wine Pairings” – getting beyond the basics and the “the rules” – I jumped at the chance.

Throwing out the rules?  Getting creative?  Needing to open a bottle of wine for blog pics?

I love it when the people I work with get me.

So…want to know which amazing wine I recommend you pair with pepperoni pizza?  Or my mother-in-law Pam’s recommendation on which wine you should buy if you’re hosting your in-laws for dinner?

Read it and drink!  Homes.com: Unexpected Wine Pairings

Want to know which wine you should pair with pizza?  Or what to buy if you're hosting your in-laws for dinner? Check out this list of Unexpected Wine Pairings from All Things G&D for Homes.com!

{Photo by the amazingly brilliant Melissa Oholendt}

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Kate’s Perfect Elsa Dress

For months I’ve been on the hunt for Kate’s perfect Elsa dress for her 5th birthday.

Looking for the perfect #Elsa dress for your little one - a dress that looks EXACTLY like Elsa's dress in the movie #Frozen? I've found it! | www.allthingsgd.com

I searched, and Googled, and Etsied, collected links and pictures and shared it all with Kate, but none of them were what she was hoping for - a dress that looked EXACTLY like the dress Elsa wore in the “Frozen” movie.

Looking for the perfect #Elsa dress for your little one - a dress that looks EXACTLY like Elsa's dress in the movie #Frozen? I've found it! | www.allthingsgd.com

According to Kate it had to have long white sleeves, a sparkly bodice (with no other adornment on the bodice, which I discovered after showing her a dress that was almost exactly like Elsa’s dress in the movie, except for a beautiful, sparkly snowflake at the neckline.  “No, mom,” she vetoed.  “Elsa’s dress doesn’t have a snowflake there.”), a skirt that “doesn’t stick out,” and – most importantly – a long cape that would drag on the floor when she walked.

Looking for the perfect #Elsa dress for your little one - a dress that looks EXACTLY like Elsa's dress in the movie #Frozen? I've found it! | www.allthingsgd.com

Detachable cape in back of dress.

I was ready to give up and settle for the almost perfect dress with the snowflake, when my friend Marcia – a supermom to twin girls who are also Elsa-obsessed – sent me a link to this dress.

Looking for the perfect #Elsa dress for your little one - a dress that looks EXACTLY like Elsa's dress in the movie #Frozen? I've found it! | www.allthingsgd.com

It had all the elements Kate had asked for – and I was running out of time – so I ordered it (without Kate knowing) and wrapped it up for her 5th birthday.  Here’s her reaction:

It was a hit!

If you’ve got a little Elsa lover looking for an Elsa dress that’s similar to the movie dress, Kate and I recommend this one!  I ordered it from this seller on eBay and the quality is so impressive.  I was expecting it to be cheap fabric or construction that would be ripped after a day or two (like most play dresses) but this one is beautifully made and very high quality.  The skirt fabric is soft and satiny, the sleeves are slightly stretchy which is nice, and the bodice is very stretchy so Kate will be able to wear it for a long time as she grows.  The cape is also detachable, which I like, considering it’s so long.

Two things to note – Kate thought the inside of the bodice was a little pokey or itchy with all those sequins, so she wore a cami underneath it and was then very comfortable.  Second, shipping took quite a while (about a month for ours), so be sure to give yourself plenty of time if you decide to order this dress.

Here’s a look at how long the cape is – Kate’s favorite feature, as you can see in the video above!

Looking for the perfect #Elsa dress for your little one - a dress that looks EXACTLY like Elsa's dress in the movie #Frozen? I've found it! | www.allthingsgd.com

The dress came with a crown, but I also ordered {affiliate link} this Elsa accessories set so Kate could wear a long braid like Elsa.  It also came with gloves and a wand.

Looking for the perfect #Elsa dress for your little one - a dress that looks EXACTLY like Elsa's dress in the movie #Frozen? I've found it! | www.allthingsgd.com

Here’s a look at the birthday girl in her new dress, Elsa braid, and Queen Elsa face paint she had put on during her birthday party!

Looking for the perfect #Elsa dress for your little one - a dress that looks EXACTLY like Elsa's dress in the movie #Frozen? I've found it! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate’s Frozen 5th Birthday Party last weekend was so much fun, and I can’t wait to share the details with you all! I’m still sorting through hundreds of photos, but should have her party post up on All Things G&D next week – stay tuned!

Planning a Frozen birthday party for your little one?  Follow me on Pinterest and check out my All Things G&D Frozen Birthday Party board!

You can also have a look at Kate’s previous birthday parties here:

Kate's colorful 1st birthday party! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate's Sesame Street Themed 2nd Birthday Party | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate's Cars-Themed 3rd Birthday Party | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate's Polka Dot Pajama Birthday Party | www.allthingsgd.com

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5 Years Later…

Today, my sweet little girl turns 5 years old.

It’s hard to believe that many years, days, hours and minutes have passed since I first held Kate in my arms.  The first time I saw her I burst into tears from all the love and joy and pride I felt over being her mom.  I remember sitting in her nursery after we brought her home from the hospital and rocking her in my arms, the tears spilling down my cheeks from all that love I felt just looking at her.

About a week ago, Kate and I were having a fun afternoon cooking in the kitchen, and I turned to her and said, “I really love doing things with you in the kitchen!”

“Me too!” she said cheerfully.

“And I love YOU even more.” I added, kissing the top of her head.

“I love you, too,” Kate replied.

And then a moment later she added, “Even when I was a baby I loved you very much.”

Five years later and those tears are still spilling down my cheeks.

Happy birthday, baby girl.

Kate-and-Mom

Me and Kate, the day we left the hospital.

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The Making of Kate’s Polka Dot Pajama Birthday Party

Of all the pictures from Kate’s Polka Dot Pajama Birthday Party last year, this one’s my favorite – our newly turned 4-year-old at the end of her party, cake pop in one hand and the other popping a polka dot candy into her chocolate-smeared face, and still rocking her birthday crown.

That’s my girl.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

And now that she’s about to turn 5 (and it’s almost time for her next birthday party) it’s probably time I finally dished the details of this one.  Here’s a look at how last year’s party all came together!

Party Theme
As I shared in her party post, the polka dot and pajamas theme was Kate’s idea (two of her favorite things), and I had so much fun making it happen!  Kate’s party was in the evening, so we invited all of her friends (and their parents) to wear their pajamas.  It worked out great since the kids could go home and head straight to bed afterwards!

“Bed” Tables
To go along with our theme, I decorated the tables in the party room to look like beds – using lots of polka dots, of course!  I used twin-sized flat sheets as tablecloths and added pillows at each end of both tables to look like the heads of a bed.  Since the blue sheets were covered up in the middle by the pink sheets, I cut them in half (so I only needed to buy two) and draped them over the ends.  The polka dot sheets peeking out at the ends of each side of the tables is actually one flat sheet that I cut into four pieces.  I used the existing top and bottom end seams for two of the table ends, and sewed two more seams for the other two table ends.  Lastly, I topped it all off with one pink flat sheet across the center of each table.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Party tables decorated to look like beds.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Party tables dressed to look like beds.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Pillowcase Place Setings & Party Favors
My favorite of all of the party decorations are these personalized pillowcases I made for each child to take home!  I purchased the pillowcases from Wal-Mart (they came in packs of 2 for $5 and the quality and softness is great!) and ordered pre-cut fabric letters from Etsy.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate’s favorite color is purple so she wanted her place setting to be all purple.

It’s been 20 years since I’ve sat down at a sewing machine, so sewing each of these letters on took me quite a while, but it was so worth it. The kids all loved taking home this personalized gift!  Here’s a look at each one:

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Personalized pillowcases I sewed for each child to take home as party favors.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

I folded the sides of the pillowcases slightly under so they would all fit at the tables, and topped each place setting with a polka dot “charger” that I made by cutting large circles out of colorful card stock, and a colorful circle plate.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

I made the water bottle wrappers by printing out colorful polka dot “happy birthday” with a “4″ in the center and “Kate is 4″ messages on regular white copy paper.  I then cut the designs into strips and secured them to the back of the water bottles with double stick tape.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate informed me at the last minute that she reeeeally wanted balloons at her party, so polka dot balloons finished off our table beds.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Dessert Table & Desserts
I dressed the dessert table to look like a bed as well, with a polka dot comforter, and pillows propped up along the back.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

The doll bed Kate got for Christmas (and a second one borrowed from a friend) were the perfect holders for our polka dot cookies!

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Doll beds made the perfect platter for our polka dot cookies!

Also on the dessert table – Kate’s favorite cake pops with polka dot sprinkles.  (Want cake pops at your next party?  Check out my 10 Tips for Perfect Cake Pops and make them yourself!)

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

As much as we love cookies and cake pops, Kate’s polka dot birthday cake was the star of dessert table!  I made it by stacking two larger circle layers of cake on the bottom, and two smaller layers on top.  Then I frosted it with buttercream frosting and added Sixlets (chocolate-coated circle candy) in Kate’s party colors around the sides.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate, blowing out her candles.

But the big surprise was inside – when the cake was cut into, the kids discovered colorful polka dots!  It was a cake-loving kid frenzy at this point, so this was the only picture (below) I was able to snap before little fingers attacked, but see those fun polka dots?  I borrowed a cake pop maker {affiliate link} from a friend, which I used to make the colorful cake pop balls.  Next, I placed the colorful, cooked-up cake pop balls in my cake pans that I used for the layers – spreading them out evenly throughout the pan – and poured the vanilla cake batter all over and around them.  Then I baked up the cake layers as usual, stacked them, frosted them, and when you cut into it this is the effect the cake balls inside makes!  (Click here to check out the full tutorial that I used.)

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate’s polka dot birthday cake – with polka dots on the inside, too!

The Venue
We gave Kate a few options for where she’d like to have her party, and she chose Pump It Up - an indoor party place featuring gigantic, fun-filled inflatables, including bouncy houses, slides, and obstacle courses.  She loves going there during their open playtime, and I have to say, their birthday party packages are phenomenal and staff were so great to work with!  They really will take care of everything for you if you’d like them to, and they were so great to work with.  In addition to the two huge playrooms our kids got to enjoy, Kate’s party also included an airbrushed tattoo artist, glow-in-the-dark accessories for some black light fun, and karaoke!  Kate and her friends had a blast!

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate and her friends enjoying the giant inflatables at her birthday party at Pump It Up.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate, all decked out in glow gear, before heading into the black light party room.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

Singing karaoke!

You can see more Pump It Up party pics (and videos of Kate and her friends belting out Katy Perry songs) in our original party post: Kate’s Polka Dot Pajama Party.

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

The birthday girl and friends!

Our Party Resources List:
Venue: Pump It Up (Fitchburg, WI location)
Sheets, blankets and pillows: Target
Plain white pillowcases: Wal-Mart
Balloons: Party City
Kate’s Personalized Birthday Shirt: Peachy Keen Designs
Kate’s birthday crown: LittleLadyAccessory (Etsy)
Kate’s birthday headband (seen in the karaoke picture above): Once Upon a Time Creations (Etsy)

A fun, colorful, and playful polka dot pajama birthday party, including tables dressed to look like beds, personalized pillowcase party favors, doll beds as cookie platters, and a polka dot cake! | www.allthingsgd.com

That should cover it all, but if I missed anything or you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!

Want to see more? Check out Kate’s other birthday parties to date, and stay tuned for her “Frozen 5th Birthday Party” post coming soon!

Kate's colorful 1st birthday party! | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate's Sesame Street Themed 2nd Birthday Party | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate's Cars-Themed 3rd Birthday Party | www.allthingsgd.com

Kate's Polka Dot Pajama Birthday Party | www.allthingsgd.com

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Organizing Your Holiday Decorations

Have you packed up your Christmas decorations yet?

I remember one year I kept our house decked in twinkle lights, shiny garland, and sparkly Christmas trees until March.  That was partly due to procrastination and partly due to loving Christmas decor so much that I couldn’t bring myself to box it all up!  Since having Kate, however, I’ve made a pledge that all of our Christmas decorations will be out of sight by her birthday (January 9th) so now I’m on my game.

For all my (formerly) fellow procrastinators out there, I’m sharing some great tips on how to keep your holiday decorations organized and tangle-free for next Christmas over at Homes.com!  Check out my 5 Tips for Organizing Holiday Decorations.  (And for all you non-procrastinaors who had your decor packed up by noon on December 26th, give yourself a great big pat on the back and pin these tips for next year!)

5 Tips for Organizing Holiday Decorations from All Things G&D for Homes.com

This little trick keeps garland and lights tangle-free! See more at 5 Tips for Organizing Holiday Decorations!

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