Our Claire Bear turned four on July 20th. I can hardly believe it. This past Saturday afternoon, we had a party to celebrate with our family and closest friends. Every year, I try to think of a theme that Claire would enjoy. Since she isn’t able to directly tell me she wants, I have to get creative. Earlier this year her therapist, Tara, discovered that Claire LOVES the song Row, Row, Row Your Boat. Like she will stop whatever she is doing, get wide eyed, and just take in the melodic goodness of that tune! So I went with that, but put my own spin on it and created a preppy nautical party for my princess.

I hand made the decorations, which I love to do for Claire. I created classic paper sailor hats for the kids:

A nautical bunting:

Wooden oar and rope word sign (tutorial here):

Boat sign and table runner stamped with anchors for the ice cream sundae bar:

The guests made their own custom sundaes:

Lots of topping in pretty mason jars:

The kids played a bucket toss game (I filled ballons with jingle bells because I thought Claire would like the sound):

We have the most supportive, loving, and fun family and friends. It was a bit hectic with so many folks in our little house (and a bit overwhelming for Claire too), but it just makes my heart happy to see all these people that adore Claire gathered together to celebrate her. I am so thankful for them.

Also, everyone joined in to sing Claire her favorite song:

merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

life is a but a dream…

(p.s. an extra special huge thank you to our dear friend Mike Olbinski for taking most of these pictures. He is the best! Hire him!)

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we celebrated claire’s second birthday saturday morning with an extra special brunch for our extra special girl. we were lucky enough to have our close friend, mike, capture the day for us (he is amazing!!). i think claire enjoyed the party, she really loves being around people. however, i made the mistake of adjusting her special diet a few days prior, which always makes her sleepy as she adjusts. needless to say, she wasn’t as active as usual that day. but it was still a beautiful celebration of her. she also collected about $300 to donate to blood:water mission at her lemon:aid stand. i think she would be so happy that her day was used to help others. so many people have prayed, served, loved on and aided us since claire was born. it is only fitting that we do what little we can to forward that love on and honor our daughter’s life in the process.

below is the brunch buffet table. it included mini quiche, lemon whoopie pies, pineapple bars, banana bread pops and fruit cups. the banners are from the fabulous tomkat studio.

we also set up a lemon:aid area with information on blood:water mission and lemonade favors for the guests. (and a hunky guy is posing by it for you.)

here’s the birthday girl.

and her beautiful hands.

here’s our other little baby enjoying the party.

here’s some pictures featuring my pom madness. believe me, this is only half of it.

we also made little jingle bells to ring after we sang the happy birthday song. if you know claire, she LOVES bells!

and just a couple more pictures our claire bear.

we love her so.

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DIY tray.

Jan 27, 2010

i remembered that i promised to post more of my everyday loves, a promise i have seriously failed at. i have been so forgetful lately to photograph all the little things i create, discover or bake on a regular basis. i pinky swear that i am going to try so much harder to document and involve you in those things. deal? over the holidays, i made a huge effort to embrace my crafty side and make many things myself. one project i jumped into was taking a plain, unfinished wood tray from michaels and transforming it into a pretty place to display trinkets, eat breakfast or sort papers in your office. it is a very versatile and super easy DIY and i hope you like it!

buy an unfinished wood tray (michaels, about $4) and paint the sides inside and out with a craft paint.


cut scrapbooking papers to fit the bottom of the tray. i first laid a sold color in the bottom and ran my fingers along the corners to form a crease, then i just trimmed the paper along the crease to fit perfectly. rocket science, i know! then i added a patterned paper, did the same crease trimming method but then cut it into three sections so some of the solid paper would show through in stripes.


remove the paper from the bottom of the tray and coat it with a thin layer of mod-podge (available by the glues at any craft store) then carefully lay your paper back into the tray, you will get lumps, try to smooth them out as best you can but don’t freak, it only adds to the character of the tray.


then coat the top of the paper with 2 thin layers of mod-podge. wait for it to dry between coats. i then coated the entire painted sides of the tray in a layer of mod-podge too. it gives it a shiny, finished look and is easier to keep clean than a matte paint finish.

IMG_1878(so easy a cave man can do it! yes, adrian even did his own tray. quite beautifully. notice how he holds the brush like a drum stick? love.)

ta-da! instant pretty tray! (yes, i made the felt flower pin too. info coming on another post soon.)


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babymae couture.

Jul 30, 2009

another of claire’s most fabulous birthday presents was from her aunt alex and uncle ryan. a super cute dress from babymae couture. it’s the talented handiwork of their close friend- danielle axtell. danielle’s line is going to be featured in a few baby boutiques soon and is also available on etsy. congrats danielle! i am in love with the colors, the print and the cute flowy shape! it is even more adorable in person. claire was being my little model one afternoon and i snapped these shots of her being gorgeous as always.





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meet clarence.

Jul 27, 2009

IMG_1155 claire was showered with a mountain of thoughtful, generous presents for her birthday. but i think if she could talk, she would tell you that her favorite gift was clarence the claire bear. she just adores him. he rides with her everywhere she goes in the carseat/stroller and she holds onto his little ears or arms with love. every kid needs a special stuffed best friend and clarence is extra special because he is handmade by claire’s auntie amber. i am sure he will be a part of the vender family for a long time and will be a lasting memento from claire’s childhood. he is extra cute and proof that even boys can look great in pink. thank you so much amber! (and if you haven’t yet, order something from her shop!)

and here’s an extra pic of claire on her actual birthday monday before going out to supper with mommy and daddy to celebrate. so pretty!


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party planning

Jun 23, 2009

if you know me, you know that i LOVE to plan a party. and the fact that this party is my little girl’s first birthday makes it ten times more exciting than any party before. my head is a tornado of ideas and soon my hands will be sore from the amount of crafty things i will be creating but to me- it is pure bliss. here’s a little peek into my delightful madness:

– the colors are hot pink, bright orange and lime green. very punchy, very summery, very girly.

– i am taking it upon myself to create these flower pinwheels to display in metal buckets filled with gerber daisies. cute!

– i am also planning on hanging these paper flowers from the rafters of the park ramada.

– the food will be an all american bbq. that means skin-on hot dogs and buns from von hanson’s. no crappy grocery store wieners here, but authentic minnesota meat! (how cool is it that they have one lonely store out here in chandler?!) bbq beans and sides from our own joe’s real bbq, yum. and a few other dishes that i will put together.

– did i mention mini cupcakes yet? i’ve discovered that mini cupcakes are the WAY to go for parties. less mess, easier to eat and the silly skinny-mini’s who say “i don’t want dessert” can’t even resist a tiny bite of cake perfection. come on!

– there will be singing. yep. our good friend and church worship pastor, stephen cole, is helping us make the evening extra special by leading us in song. they will be songs that celebrate the gift God has given us in claire, reflect on the journey this has been in our lives and ultimately tell Him how much we love Him. and if you are a guest and don’t sing? expect to be STRUCK DOWN by lightening. just kidding. but really i might give you the evil eye and you DO NOT want to chance that. 🙂

so there are some of my fantabulous plans. i cannot wait to have our close friends and family there to celebrate claire and what an amazing little miracle she is in this world.


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what you missed.

May 7, 2009

over my blogging break a ton happened and of course i am going to fill you in! here’s six things you missed in the vender world last month:

  1. easter- we had a wonderful day at our house with both sides of the family, grandma nancy visiting from MN and our awesome friends the olbinskis. it was yummy food and fun company. claire got 3 easter baskets and we had our annual money egg hunt too! oh and you missed my very martha stewart decoupage eggs!IMG_0629
  2. adrian’s birthday- my handsome hubby turned 28 and we celebrated at joe’s farm grill with all our friends and family (lily too!) it was a great time! the weather was perfect (not the 100 degree crap we have now) and i even flexed my baking muscles by making a red velvet, cinnamon buttercream, 3 layer cake from scratch. of course it took 5 hours to make and the cake was more brown than red but you know it’s the thought that counts!IMG_0650
  3. our 6th wedding anniversary- wow. can’t believe how long it’s been already, seems like yesterday adrian and i were in high school flirting with each other at a new year’s eve party. look where that took us! we spent the day relaxing, indulged in some of our favorite sprinkles cupcakes and had a low key dinner at z tejas. we love margaritas. and since it was only our second date away from claire, we went for the tequila!
  4. salsa fest- speaking of mexican food, we spent a fun afternoon with our life group at the annual maricopa salsa festival. by the end of the day we were all overdosed on chips and salsa but had a blast doing it. claire was so good with the huge crowds and we even chased down the cardinals mascot big red for a picture!IMG_0668
  5. claire’s teeth- the count is up to four! that’s right, all bottom and top front teeth are in various stages of making their debut in claire bear’s boca. they usually don’t bug her too much until night time and watch out if you have to put anything in her mouth because that bite hurts!
  6. auntie amber came to visit- yay! claire got some cuddle time in and i got to share a much needed brunch with my two long time friends, shanan and amber. i am so thankful to have them in my life. it’s amazing how some people just know you. even if you don’t get to spend as much time with each other as you used to, it’s like you have been friends so long that they are just a part of you and it will never change. i love that.IMG_0654
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chapeau de fleur.

Mar 21, 2009

claire has the sweetest, most craft-tastic auntie amber. this week a special little package arrived and inside was the cutest crocheted cap i have ever seen.


the flower is interchangeable to match miss claire’s outfits. perfection. you know how i love hair accessories for my baby girl! if auntie amber was here right now, claire would give her a big slobbery kiss and then probably start crying. why you ask? because as i previously mentioned, the pesky tooth fairy has come to visit the vender household. claire does not like her one bit! especially at night. poor claire. i wish she knew how to hold things to her mouth so a chew toy would offer some relief. currently, the only thing she wants is to chomp on her pacifier like a baby piranha. here’s proof:


anyway, visit amber’s etsy shop and buy lots of goodies!!

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Nov 25, 2008

http://ny-image2.etsy.com/il_fullxfull.37130010.jpgit’s been slow going replacing all the stuff that was stolen from me. adrian got me a new blackberry within a couple days so i am now reconnected with the world; i won a ebay auction for a new diaper bag and found a super cute wallet on sale. i’ll post on those later when they arrive. but one lifesaver product that was taken was my adorable travel wipes case. my friend amber found these on etsy and gifted me one at the baby shower. i am so sad that the shop she got it from no longer has any for sale, but the good news is tons of other ladies make them! i ordered from kahcouture’s shop and i can’t wait to receive it in a few days! if you search on etsy for “baby wipes case” you’ll find tons of variations to choose from. they make excellent gifts and are so handy for everyday use when you need to change a diaper. i love them!

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while browsing around at the expensive baby boutiques, i kept seeing cute little frames perfect for claire’s nursery shelves. only problem was those cute little frames cost over $40 each. i decided to expand my crafty talents and see if i could create them myself. all it took was $4 white frames from target, a glue gun, scraps of ribbon and some buttons. here’s my results, what do you think? i have to say, i’m pretty happy with how they turned out. oh and that one photo is of claire licking adrian’s scruffy face, it was hilarious!

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