Baby Lifestyles Magazine Issue 2
The second issue discusses summer baby celebrations and profiles Jenn Sbranti, the Hostess with the Mostess
Baby Lifestyles Celebrate Everyday Moments ................. in Unforgettable Ways ................. big smiles little kisses first steps From birth announcements to baptisms, first birthdays and beyond, Tiny Prints has hundreds of customizable designs to make every milestone remarkable. ................................................................... Make your baby and birthday parties memorable and sweet! Shop Our Candy Store Wrap up the school year, and become more organized this summer! From day planners for you and your tween, to helpful pads and home organizers . . . momAgenda has all of the tools you need to keep your hectic schedules on track. momAgenda � Get Organized With Style!� www.momagenda.com Baby Lifestyles Publisher, Creative Director LAUREN HALPERIN TARA STEINLE Managing Editor ELLEN FELDMAN, BETH MERAN LOLA STEEVENS AUSTIN "Mr. Z" RAPPAPORT MICHAEL GUSTMAN Amanda Bevington, Jorian Maye Keegan, Melissa Lynn, Christina Nease, Johanna Reyes, Tiffany Wayne Visit Baby Lifestyles online at www.BabyLifestyles.com for inspiration, real baby showers, birthday parties, nursery reveals, hot products, news, updats, contests, giveaways, and more Website Architect S.E.O. Management Sales Director Contributing Editors CONTRIBUTORS Would you like to contribute to Baby Lifestyles? Email our editorial staff at Editor@BabyLifestyles.com Submit your baby shower, birthday party or nursery to Baby Lifestyles at www.BabyLifestyles.com For information about advertising in Baby Lifestyles Magazine and online, contact Lola Steevens at email@example.com Follow us on Twitter: @BabyLifestyles1 Baby Lifestyles is published bi-monthly by Baby Lifestyles, LLC. All contents �2011 Baby Lifestyles, LLC. All rights reserved. The amazing and talented Christina Nease of Celebrations at Home created this summer and sherbet baby shower for us. As an expert on how to throw parties in your backyard, she offers tips on how to get the most out of a beautiful day for a baby shower. Read it at page 60 B www.BabyLifestyles.com On the Cover 3 CONTENTS August/ September 2011 PAGE 22 PAGE 68 PAGE 70 7 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR 10 COOS AND NEWS 14 INSPIRATION BOARDS 18 NEW IN HOLLYWOOD 100 LAST WORD IN EVERY ISSUE PAGE 90 MAKING A DIFFERENCE NURSERY REVEALS 22 ADOPTED IN LOVE 26 GUS AND LULA 29 ALEXIS 31 BROOKLYN 36 OLIVER 39 HADLEY 42 RUBY AND SCARLETT 46 PEARSON 49 PAINTING WITH KRISTEN FOUNTAIN DESIGNS PAGE 64 BEHIND THE DESIGN CELEBRATIONS 52 SHERRI BLUM 70 BABY SHOWER TIPS 78 GLASS SLIPPER BALL 84 GROWING THE LOVE 88 CIRQUE DU SURPRISE PAGE 52 STUFF WE LOVE PARTY TIPS AND TRICKS 60 SUNSHINE AND SHERBERT 68 ENDLESS SUMMER 14 BABY SHOWER FAVORS 17 BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS 19 DIY TUTORIALS 20 TISSUE PAPER POMS POWER PLAYER 90 HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTESS B www.BabyLifestyles.com 5 After my wedding I was asked by everyone I knew to help them with their parties. Granted I had a Platwas all my wedding inum wedding with all the bells and whistles, but it planner and a budget from a different economic era. My friends asked if I would become a wedding planner when it was all over. Truth be told, I have no talent for planning parties. I host our annual Super Bowl party each year and if you ask my husband, he'll tell you the only thing I'm good at is going over budget and ordering too much food. I don't even cook. Ask me who does have talent and I'll say Jenn Sbranti, founder and operator of Hostess with the Mostess. About three years ago when Baby Lifestyles launched I was in awe of her site. From the parties she posted to the overall look of her brand, it was hard to not be impressed. I was even more stunned when I sent her an email asking her to comment about the trend of co-ed baby me a quote is something I never forgot. showers and she answered with some great ideas. I doubt she even remembers it, but the honor of having her send Now that Baby Lifestyles is moving into the future, I'm even more honored that Jenn gave me the time for a full interview. It's hard not to admire someone with so much creativity, so much business savvy, and for me, a woman one who can debug the matrix and make something insanely beautiful out of it. Read about Jenn Sbranti and everything she's accomplished as the Queen of Parties on page 90. who made it online. There is nothing glamorous about staring at lines of computer code each day, but Jenn is some- For everyone else who knows how to plan, style, and host a great party... I salute you! Lauren Halperin Publisher & Creative Director B www.BabyLifestyles.com 7 Amanda gives us some tips and tricks for taking great pictures at your next baby shower on page 70 Amanda Bevington Party of baby shower Primarily a wedding photojourphotography is getting all the nalist, after the birth of her emotional moments. Melissa daughter, she began capturing had to get the look on an children and lifestyle imagery as expectant mom's face as well. She works in both color and black & white and her editorial she wassurprised at her shower. page 88 style is modern and distinctive with a timeless, classical edge. Joriann Maye Keegan Melissa Lynn Author of the Celebrations at Home blog, Christina is an expert at having a party in your backyard. Here she styles a Sunshine and Sherbert baby shower on page 60 Christina Nease Summer is the greatest season of the year to throw a party. Great weather, sunshine, and sweet foods combined with her creative printables make for a great celebration. See how she themed a watermelon party for those summer days page 68 Johanna Reyes Incredible photographers know how to get the details at events. We were mesmerized by the details of the "Growing the Love" baby shower Wayne shot, we'd hire her any day. Check it out on page 84 Tiffany Wayne 8 B www.BabyLifestyles.com HOW DOES YOUR BABY PARTY? WWW.BABYLIFESTYLES.COM B www.BabyLifestyles.com News and Coos Baby Blanket Music makes its debut with a collection of albums featuring unique, soothing lullaby arrangements of favorite songs from an array of well-known stars. Billy Joel, Elton John, John Mayer and Simon & Garfunkel are among the artists whose hit songs and familiar melodies are featured in the collection. Cameron Diaz has signed on to the film adaptation of What to Expect When You're Expecting. She will join Jennifer Lopez (who will play pregnant for the second time in two years) and an ensemble cast that includes Anna Kendrick Chris Rock, Rodrigo Santoro, Matthew Morrison, and Brooklyn Decker. Based on the 16 million copy best-selling book, What to Expect When You're Expecting is an ensemble romantic-comedy is in the vein of Love Actually and Valentine's Day. The film is a modern look at love through the eyes of four interconnected couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby, and ultimately coming to understand the universal truth that no matter what you plan for, life doesn't always deliver what's expected. Directed by Kirk Jones, What to Expect begins shooting this summer for a May 11, 2012 release. The Pastry Pedestal allows anyone to easily personalize, customize and creatively display any type of petite pastry, small appetizer and so much more. This patent pending device is transparent, allowing for easy personalization. Simply add decorative paper circles to the underside to coordinate with the theme and colors of your event for a dazzling dessert display.Get yours at Thepastrypedestal.com. 10 Melissa and Kellie of Icing Designs are excited to show their frosted photo flags. These hand-glittered photo tags are fabulous for any occasion; birthdays, baby showers, baptisms, and much more. How about using your baby's birth announcement picture and tying them around cookies to give guests at your sip and see! The possibilities are endless! The photos we used to create the frosted photo cupcake flags were also taken by Meg Fish of her sweet baby girl. Dusted in glitter and available in colors like pink, blue, yellow, white and more, they're the perfect topper to your dessert. Cupcakes by Enjoy Cupcakes. www.etsy.com/shop/icingdesigns 11 The fiction of singledom is giving way to the fiction of motherhood, and readers are snapping these books up. Manhattan nursery grinder in Jill Kargman's first solo novel. When Hannah Allen relocates from San Francisco to the Upper East Side of Manhattan, she is introduced to the local momzillas who fret over their children's head circumferences and admissions into pre-preschools with three-year waiting lists. As Hannah attempts to get her daughter Violet into the prestigious Carnegie Nursery School, she finds herself struggling to feel at home and make new friends with the Park Avenue moms. The book starts off with a glossy in the beginning, as anyone not living amongst New York City's elite will relate to the momzillas Hannah has to deal with. All mothers, regardless of their income bracket, can relate somewhat to the different groups of Type-A mothers and the frighteningly easy downslope we must strive to avoid before becoming one ourselves. Kargman's light, humorous style, laced with tons of pop-culture references, will make this book a fun, quick read. Polly Williams provides an irreverent take on the various mommy tribes we tend to en- counter around the births of children. While the title definitely screams chick lit, but this book was much more deeply layered than expected. There's the earth-mothers who think breast feeding is the be all and end all, whipping their boobs out proudly in public without flinching; then there's the yummy mummies. You know the type; lost their baby weight in ten days, have live in help so they can lunch, get their hair done, shop, making the rest of us feel wholly inadequate; and then there's our heroine Amy - caught between the two. Amy's new friend Alice, a so-called "yummy mummy," who, with her similarly slim and elegant West London friends, takes Amy on as her newest project. It's a blunt, funny story of a new, unwed mother caught in between the new world of diapers, spit-up, etc, her own insecurities about her life in general, and the transformation of herself as a result off all of these things. The Yummy Mummy has a good plot and will make you feel better about your mommy insecurities whilst having some laughs along the way, but anyone who has gone through new motherhood will identify with many of Amy's feelings, doubts, and qualms about her new life. How do starlets walk into the delivery room pregnant and walk out in size 0 jeans without a shred of evidence that the adorable bundles in their arms actually ever resided inside their perfectly toned abdomens? Margolis wonders the same thing and puts forth some fun mystery theories in Gucci Gucci Coo. Ruby Silverman co-owns the celebrity frequented baby store Les Sprogs in exclusive Notting Hill section of London. She ponders the 12 B www.BabyLifestyles.com question that has bother humanity for the past century how does a starlet give birth and immediately afterward look like a perfectly fit marathon runner with a waist in negative numbers. Ruby has noticed that some of customers give birth and arrive with their newborn as svelte as ever. However, Ruby is shocked when she notices a customer expected to give birth soon has a flat stomach that the store owner envies. Her belly begins to think there is something sneaky going on so she begins to follow-up that tantalizing clue. Soon her efforts lead her to nearby St. Luke's Hospital for the rich and famous where she becomes a bit off her sleuthing path because her prime suspect is a gorgeous doctor. This satirical chick lit thriller is a fun tongue in cheek tale that grips the audience from the moment that Ruby begins to learns the top secret of starlet pregnancies and never slows down until she uncovers the final piece of evidence. Chick lit and contemporary fans will enjoy Sue Margolis' mirth and merriment "mystery". While the novel will obviously appeal to mommy types and pediatricians, it will also have plenty of relevance for the childless of the world who can never fully escape the fallout from the population explosion no matter how hard they try. When Dr. Shelley Green joins Madison Pediatrics, a medical practice catering to the rich, peculiar parents of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, this self-described "schlumpy girl from Jackson Heights" is unprepared for the self-centered eccentrics who parade through her office. Anyone can relate to the colorful characters and crazy situations so vividly brought to life in this collaborative work by author Sebastian Stuart and renowned pediatrician, Dr. Judy Goldstein. 24 KARAT KIDS follows the truly admirable Dr. Shelly Green, a smart, determined, and self-confident young woman as she begins her pediatrics practice, one that requires her to accept responsibility for the lives of tiny infants and innocent children without even having had the pleasure of getting knocked up first. Witty and fast-paced, 24 KARAT KIDS is nonstop fun with realistically-evolving characters, and while it is wildly entertaining, it's also highly informative on loads of stuff, including pediatric issues. You will want to join a mommy group after reading this book! A newly divorced restaurant critic and a single mother, Anna is a perfect candidate for the support group, Mothers Coming Together, but she can't imagine what she'll be getting involved with. These flawed friends support each other through hard times, and there are many. After a newcomer's water breaks during a party at Grace's home, the four women bond and discover that "Mothers matter... for better or worse," and friendship does, too. The novel's lessons-leaning to balance personal lives with parenthood issues and make important choices-are redeeming, even if Gaskell does play it safe with a predictably heartwarming resolution. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 13 Which to hang on baby's wall? Mirror, mirror on the wall... 14 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Newspaper Announcements Announce your baby to the world with a completely customizable nuewspaper! www.NewspaperAnnouncements.com Saying Thanks 16 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Hello World B www.BabyLifestyles.com 17 Kate Hudson and Matt Bellamy: son, Bingham "Bing" Hawn Bellamy Date: Jul 9 Details: Kate Hudson and Matt Bellamy welcomed a "healthy baby boy" on Saturday, July 9 in Los Angeles. Bingham "For those wondering, Bingham is my mum's maiden name," the Muse frontman, 33, tweeted Thursday afternoon of his mother Marilyn. "Bing Russell was also Kurt [Russell's] dad. Family connections all around!" Hudson, 32, has one son -- Ryder, 7 -- with her ex-hubby Chris Robinson. Celebrity Baby Boom Who's New in Hollywood Millepied welcomed baby boy Aleph. Portman chose to honor her Israeli roots by naming him the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Pink and Carey Hart: daughter, Willow Sage Date: Jun 2 Details: Pink revealed that she named her daughter Willow because "The willow is my favorite tree. It's the most flexible tree in nature and nothing can break it -- no wind, no elements. It can bend and withstand anything." Adrian Young: daughter, Magnolia Ren�e Date: Jun 10 Details: No Doubt's drummer Adrian Young and his wife Nina welcomed daughter Magnolia Ren�e. Magnolia joins brother Mason, 9 -- and six other kids in the No Doubt family. Chris Powell: son, William Cash Date: Jun 13 Details: Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition trainer Chris Powell and his wife Heidi welcomed their son son William Cash Powell. Baby 'Cash' weighed in at a healthy 7lbs 13oz and was 21.5 inches long. Jennie Finch and Casey Daigle: son, Diesel Dean Date: Jun 19 Details: Olympian Jennie Finch and husband, Major League Baseball pitcher Casey Daigle welcomed their second son, Diesel Dean Daigle, on Father's Day. No word yet on if he has a curve ball. Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict: son, Cree Date: Jun 28 Details: Tia Mowry and Cory Hardrict welcomed a baby boy named Cree. She will reunite with her sister on this summer's`Tia & Tamera Take 2,' on the Style Network. Victoria and David Beckham: daughter, Harper Seven Beckham Date: Jul 10 Details: David and Victoria Beckham finally welcomed a daughter to join their four sons. It is rumored that she was given her middle name after her father's soccer jersey number. Jewel and Ty Murray: son Kase Towne Murray Date: Jul 11 Details: Jewel and husband Ty Murray welcomed a baby boy, Kase Towne Murray. At five months pregnant, the "Who Will Save Your Soul" singer was hit by a fire truck. Medical tests found that she and her unborn child were unharmed and she was released a day after the crash. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner: daughter, Arabella Rose Date: Jul 17 Details: The Apprentice judge announced via Twitter that she gave birth to a "healthy little baby girl" She tweeted, "Jared and I are having so much fun playing with our daughter! Arabella Rose is beyond adorable. She's truly a blessing." Natalie Portman: son, Alef Date: June 14 Details: Natalie Portman and her fiance Benjamin 18 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Materials: 13-inch embroidery hoop or wooden wreath Silk flowers Glue gun and sticks Ribbons Flower balls Crepe paper Needle thread Instructions: 1. Take white tape (or color it accordingly) and run it across the embroidery hoop. 2. Fold the crepe paper (or ribbon) like an `S' and stick the needle with thread straight through. 3. Attach folded paper/ribbon to the tape running across the embroidery hoop. 4. Use glue gun to attach silk flowers around the embroidery hoop. 5. Hang by gluing one long strip of ribbon to both ends of embroidery hoop. 6. *** Attach butterflies, dragonflies or other objects to the flowers for extra decoration. Materials: 13-inch embroidery hoop Double-sided tape Ribbons Scissors Instructions: 1. Wrap ribbon around the embroidery hoop to cover the surface of the form. For a more natural look, or depending on the color of it, you can also leave the hoop unwrapped. 2. Line the ring with double sided tape. Clear tape will not show if you have wrapped the embroidery hoop completely in ribbon. 3. Using scissors cut the ribbon into strips of about 15 inches. *** When choosing ribbon length, remember that that you will want to keep the ribbons out of baby's reach once hung. 4. Fold ribbons over the ring, pressing an end against the tape and knot. 5. To hang, tie two 20-inch ribbons to opposite sides of hoop and hang from ceiling. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 19 Tissue Paper Poms The thing Daneve Frankish of Ah-Tissue loves most about tissue poms is the versatility and re-usability of the product in various events. "Hanging poms in the corner of a nursery can then be made into pom sticks for the child to play with as they get older," Daneve says. Born into a creative family of an art lecturer and a music teacher, from a young age, Daneve has been doing everything and anything creative. As a former wedding florist and assistant photographer, it was a natural progression to move into tissue poms, which decorate parties so beautiful and make sensational photographs. By Lauren Halperin Tissue poms was an old craft that Daneve noticed had once again come back into fashion and was being used at parties and to decorate children's rooms. "I realized there was a strong market for them and a vast range of different ways to create and bring these poms to life that hadn't yet been done." She created Ah Tissue, an online business that sells tissue paper poms in a variety of styles, sizes, colors and sets. 20 B www.BabyLifestyles.com What do you love about tissue poms? I love that there is no limit in the range of colors and prints they can be made in. This makes them perfect for so many different events. I also love how they can bring colors to areas of a room that normally would be left blank and give a feeling from afar of a soft glow of color. My favorite use is as a hanging pom. I love how they appear as if they are floating in mid air. How do tissue poms give a customer more bang for their d�cor dollars? Tissue paper in general is a cheaper product to use then some things that might be the alternative. Having a row of poms line the center of a table in a simple vase is going to look just as affective as a bunch of flowers for a lot less money. They would also look softer and can are not reliant on seasons. They can also be re-used for numerous events and if stored correctly can have a long life span. How many different colors does Ah Tissue offer? What are you most popular ones? Approximately 37 plain colors are available as well as the printed range. This is constantly expanding as I am finding new paper colors and prints. The most popular colors are the pinks and the more pastel colors, perfect for baby showers and nurseries. We're loving the pom cupcake picks! Tell us about them! I first came up with the pom sticks and then the cupcake picks just stemmed from that. They are fairly popular as they are so cute and cupcakes are always a popular party item. What colors are popular for baby showers? You would think it would be pink and blue or yellow but people nowadays are being a bit more creative themselves and moving away from the norm. They are doing colors like a spearmint and chocolate brown or a teal etc. Parents are definitely choosing poms based on the invite and the color themes of the party. How do you see people using the poms in parties? Garland poms above and around tables to frame them. As pom sticks in a vase for kids to play with. As centerpieces for a table (which are poms that are flat on one side so to be easily placed on the table). And of course hanging poms to bring a layer of color to the ceiling of a room. Tissue poms are a trend in nurseries too. As they are such a soft-looking product they really do lend themselves to the feel most parents want to create in a new baby nursery. Also, as they are such a lightweight item people don't need to use heavy, permanent hooks to keep them in place � especially if someone is just renting or the decoration is not permanent this can be helpful. Like in place of a baby mobile. From a baby's point of view, it's a lovely soft looking cloud of color for the child to watch and if it fell would cause no distress to the child. Where do you see poms going in the future? I see them continuing to be a popular decorative choice and I hope to continue to create new and inventive ways to use this craft. I love getting feedback and photos from clients and seeing the smiles on the faces that view them. 21 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Britt and Keith let us in on their journey to Ethiopia to adopt their son and daughter. They opened their hearts to us, their blog entries, and the door to their nursery. Britt and Keith always wanted to adopt. Ultimately, it was their faith that brought us to the decision to start the process, and to adopt from Ethiopia. A long and frustrating process for many, including Britt and Keith, they say it also changed them in good ways and helped prepare them to be parents. Through the process, they learned patience, a necessity for any parent. Now that their son and daughter are home with them, it becomes hard for them to remember how long and grueling the process was. Several families in their church had adopted children, both domestically and internationally, though none from Ethiopia. When they started the adoption process, they ran into several people in their area with little ones from Ethiopia. Hoping it would provide their kids with a great network of friends with the same experiences and questions about their background, the couple decided to adopt from there. "Practically speaking, the list of countries we were able to work with was pretty slim, due to our age and the minimum age requirements of most countries," Britt explained. "Ethiopia was also one of the faster, more reasonable programs, and the number of orphans in the country is unbelievable � 4 million. There was more to it, too, though. Despite the practical upsides to the program, we resisted at first. We didn't know anything about biracial families, we had never been to Africa, we didn't know anyone who had adopted from there. But we were drawn to Ethiopia. We prayed about our decision and were given an overwhelming sense of peace, so we moved forward, trusting that God would clear the path for us to complete our adoption. And he did." Britt and Keith were given an overview of the adoption process by our agency, and they had read from other adoptive parents on online forums. But as things change quickly with international adoption, they found that much of the information they had up front wasn't applicable later on in the process. 2.27.2010 This week started out as a major let-down for us. We received our FBI fingerprints (one of many sets of fingerprints we've had done for the adoption) back in the mail -- rejected. After two months of waiting. Which meant that we would have to wait at least another two months to even send all our paperwork to Ethiopia, and I found out that the wait times after paperwork was received in Ethiopia had increased by a few months! So we were looking at extending our adoption time-line several months. I was less than thrilled. I had a pity party. I moped and cried. "The frustration for us mainly came from our impatience and our desire to control everything � to want to know exactly what was happening and when. When we were in a good place of trusting that God was in control, the process became much less frustrating." 12.10.2010 After one year in the adoption process, thirty-nine notarizations, authentications, and certifications, four homestudy meetings, five trips into Atlanta (for said authentications), six months of "officially" waiting, five parenting and 22 B www.BabyLifestyles.com adoption books, accumulation of countless baby items, and thousands of prayers.........we have a "pre-referral"! A referral is when we will get photos, medical information, names, histories, etc. for the two children we've been matched with. We don't have this yet. A "pre-referral" is our agency letting us know (unofficially, of course) that we've been matched with two BOYS! From the beginning, Britt and Keith had asked for two babies. "We wanted our children to have each other, to grow up together and have someone to understand what it was like to have the same experiences and to come from the same background." 12.20.2010 We received our referral Friday evening. Almost too amazing to be real. Since then we've shared the news with family, friends, and facebook at large, celebrated, starting nesting.......it's been a good time. With this news, we're entering into a new phase in our lives. We're parents. We have children. Things are going to be different now. As for the referral and our precious babies: we have one boy and one girl (the agency was wrong!). They're both about two months old, and have gorgeous dark eyes and hair and couldn't be more beautiful. And we couldn't be more in love. In December, almost a year to do the day after starting the process, Britt and Keith saw the first pictures of their son and daughter. "I can't describe what it felt like to see them for the first time � it was amazing. Unreal. I had such a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that the little faces I was staring at were actual babies, halfway around the world, who were waiting for us. There was so much love and excitement and joy in seeing their sweet pictures." In early February Britt and Keith learned they would be traveling to Ethopia for a spring court date of March 17. This is a huge step in the process, as their babies will legally and officially become theirs on that day. They were excited to spend time with them and love them and get to know them. They were also told that after this they would have to leave their new babies as they wait for their Embassy Date, when they will be allowed to come home. The Embassy Date is generally six to eight weeks after the court date. While they did have Ethiopian names, Britt and Keith chose to rename them, Gus and Lulu (not their real names, but how they are known by online). "While not related by blood, are absolutely brother and sister," Keith said. "Both through their adoption into our family, and hopefully one day, through their faith and adoption into God's family. For all intents and purposes, they are twins who get their own birthdays, about a month apart, and Gus is Lula's big brother." Keith started journaling, attempting to capture the events and emotions of the days leading up to their first meeting with our babies in Ethiopia. "I had a history professor in college who utilized soldiers' journals to help teach about the war. A men's conference at our church got me thinking about this a while back, and about how much I would love to have a journal from my dad or grandfather to learn more about their lives and what growing up was like for them. All of these thoughts, convinced me it would be a great gift to my children and their children if I were to write down parts of my life and share my thoughts with future generations through a journal. It's a tough discipline to learn and make time for, so I haven't yet succeeded in being consistent with B www.BabyLifestyles.com 23 it, except while we were in Ethiopia � I was very careful to journal diligently during that journey so our children can read all that we experienced." 3.18.2011We made it safely to Ethiopia, and we did meet our sweet babies shortly after arriving. They are amazing. Gus is smiley and happy, he has awesome curly hair and bluegray eyes! He goes from smiling and playing to sleeping in a split second � while sitting up. It's hilarious. We love him to pieces. Sweet Lula is gorgeous. She has very delicate features and is definitely girl. She is calm and sweet. Where Gus is short and pudgy, she is very long and lean. Unfortunately, much too lean. It seems that before we arrived, she had been battling pneumonia and had lost a significant amount of weight. She is heart-breakingly thin, and is still fighting off a cough and stomach bug, though a chest x-ray today showed that the pneumonia has cleared. Please send prayers our way. Otherwise, we're hanging in there. The Ethiopian people are amazing. So kind and warm. We are being cared for in so many ways, and God has cleared many obstacles from our path. We are so thankful for the peace we have in Him in all of our concern for Lula. He is good. The first time Britt and Keith saw their babies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it was unexpectedly impromptu. "We had no idea that our agency had arranged to have our children brought from the orphanage to our guest house until the program coordinator mentioned it, and took us to meet them right away. We didn't have the time we thought we would to compose ourselves, which made the meeting all the more emotional. We immediately fell in love with Gus and Lula. We spent an hour just holding them and loving on them. It was surreal and beautiful." 4.01.2011 We have met many amazing, wonderful people here in Ethiopia. There's Johnny, our driver, who is a volunteer marriage counselor at his church. Shortly after we arrived and I broke down in the hallway at the hospital where our (then) very sick little girl was taken, he sat with me and comforted me. I have never appreciated having a friend as much as at that moment. There's Dr. asser, who is doing everything possible to advocate for Lula and push our case forward so she can get to the US for better medical care. When we offered to pay him for his services, he declined, but let us know about a flashlight he uses for late-night patient visits and lab tests, and how he is unable to find replacement bulbs for it. As soon as we get home, we'll be on a mission to find bulbs for this kind man. And then there's Mama Helen and Mordecai. They work at the orphanage where our children were. Mordecai went to both of our children's places of birth and brought them to Addis - not an easy trip when you consider the rough terrain, horrible roads, and the fact that there are no car seats. Mama Helen fought for our daughter when she had pneumonia and the orphanage manager hesitated to find medical care for her. I'm convinced that these two amazing people saved our children's lives. Gus and Lula were living at an orphanage in a third 24 B www.BabyLifestyles.com world country. The conditions were not ideal to say the least. "Unlike some horror stories we've heard about orphanages, though, it did seem that the nannies genuinely cared for the children and were doing their best to meet their needs. There are so many people that we are indebted to - the doctor who cared for Lula while she was sick, the nanny who gave her special attention and helped her recover, and the young man from the orphanage who made a treacherous trip to gather paperwork for us so we could bring our children home. We were truly sad to leave Ethiopia and the amazing people we met while there." Britt and Keith love traveling, especially to places much different from where they live, and Ethiopia was certainly that. "We look back on our time there with great fondness," Keith said. "As Britt has said many times, the people are just amazing � caring, relaxed, and incredibly hospitable. We were surprised at just how pro-western they were, and yet, it was the only place we've ever been with hardly any American brands � not even McDonalds or KFC - probably a good thing! We weren't exactly roughing it with a cook, driver, maids and nannies all at our disposal in the agency-run housing. Becoming parents there was a pleasure, as we got to focus on doing just that, with no meetings, errands or general busyness to distract us." 4.18.2011 As I write this, we are all packed up, waiting for the guest house minibus to take us to the airport. Our whole adoption journey is a testament to God's grace, and this past week has been no different. Thanks to some very persistent, very proactive friends who contacted state representatives on our behalf, we passed embassy with flying colors. I'm not sure they even glanced at our paperwork -- they just waved us on through. We had the amazing opportunity to worship at a local church this Sunday, and could feel God's presence there. And little Lula is now up to 11.5 pounds, up from 8.5 a month ago. She is starting to look and act like a healthy little girl. The road ahead is looking rough -- a 30 hour trip with 2 infants, and none of us is feeling especially good right now. But we know God is in control and will go ahead of us, and we know that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and man are we feeling weak. It has been an exciting, life-changing journey, one that we wouldn't hesitate to repeat, but praise God, we're finally going home! "I can't even begin to put into words how wonderful our bed felt our first night back!" Keith shared. "Britt's sister and her husband were very generous and stayed up with Gus and Lula our first night back so we could get some sleep and recover from our travels, as we arrived home at 8pm after 30 hours of traveling. Lula had a first rough night home, as she had picked up a sinus infection on the plane, but after that they adjusted amazingly quickly. Within a few days, we were all in a pretty good rhythm." As church followers and believers in God, Keith describes seeing Gus and Lula baptized as one of the best days of their lives. "Seeing them baptized was such a beautiful reminder of God's promises to us, and sort of a culmination of the entire adoption in our minds. It was the day that they officially became part of our local church family, and a symbol of the day when they will put their faith in Jesus Christ and be adopted into God's family." "Everyone expects that we must difficulty parenting two children, but they are such good, easy-going babies that it is a pleasure being their parents," Britt said of her family. "They have brought us so much joy, and we are so thankful and humbled that we have this incredible opportunity to raise them." Turn the page to see Gus and Lula's nursery! B www.BabyLifestyles.com 25 Gus and Lula's Nursery Haven By Lauren Halperin As part of the adoption process, Britt went to work decorating her nursery more than a year before it was filled with smiling faces. While the room was ready to go in color scheme, furniture and basic layout, she didn't know it would be the home to both a boy and girl until much later. A photo of a corner room designed in the same color palette by Ruthie Sommers is what inspired this room. "It seemed like it would work well for a gender-neutral space, and it was fresh and cheery," Britt said of the room. "After I had that, I just worked with what I had and what I could find on my budget to create a similar feel for the room." Britt infused the room with yellow color pops, thinking it added a nice contrast to the blues and greens. "I tried to distribute it around the room so there was a nice flow to the space. Once we found out it was a boy and a girl, we were able to create the personal touches with a dash of pink thrown in for Lula. I probably would not have gravitated toward this color scheme for a boys' only nursery or a girls' only nursery, but it works well for a gender neutral space, and has the cheery, sunny look I was going for." Other than the challenges that came with decorating for both a boy and a girl, the next challenge was approaching the room for twins, including finding space for two cribs and two dressers. "It helped to position the cribs closely together, and we were able to squeeze a dresser into the closet, which has added some muchneeded storage. I really feel that the overall design will work for years to come, and the cribs transition to toddler beds, so hopefully we're set for the next two or three years." By not focusing on a gender-specific color, decorating for both genders became easy. Almost all of the decorative touches in the room, from the pillows and the crib skirts, to the blankets and art were all made by Britt or by a family member. "I feel like all of the handmade projects make the room even more special for our babies." Britt made the banner using scraps of fabric from the crib skirts and pillows, as well as some other fabrics that allowed her to add pops of pink and yellow to the room. "The "Praise God" print was a result of getting our referral � our first information and photos of our babies, so I thought that it was fitting to hang it in the nursery." The beautiful chandelier was an eBay find and one of Britt's favorite pieces in the room. "I have a thing for lighting, especially vintage, and I love how quirky this piece is. I love that it has so much personality." Originally gold, she painted it Kelly green to coordinate with the rest of the room and bring the eye upward. "In addition to giving you more time to find what you really want for the space, spreading the decorating process out across the months will help parents going through the adoption process occupy their time and keep help keep you sane while you wait." By the time Britt and her husband Keith boarded the plane to Ethiopia, the nursery room was ready for Gus and Lula to come home to. "We were so joyful in our anticipation of bringing Gus and Lula into our family, I hoped that their nursery would show our excitement. I wanted them to wake up feeling happy and playful each morning." 26 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 27 "I wanted them to wake up feeling happy and playful each morning." 28 B www.BabyLifestyles.com A Sweet Haven for Alexis By Tara Steinle B www.BabyLifestyles.com 29 The design for Alexis' nursery was by her mom Lynette's love of soft and serene color palettes, like cream and blue. "I adore coastal cottages, soothing spaces, and fresh designs. But, I was having a girl! Cream and blue for a girl? Unheard of, right!" Her plan was not to be derailed, she only needed to tweak her idea slightly. Even before she knew her baby's gender, she decided regardless of what her bundle of joy turned out to be, their room would include the blue and brown palette. Prior to being turned into Alexis' nursery, this room was the unfinished guest room of Lynette's home. "The bones were there, but I had yet to purchase guest room furniture or accessories. The rest of my home is decorated in shades of cream, beige, brown and robin's egg blue. I wanted the guest room to take on that same color scheme, so I painted the room my favorite color silver sage from Restoration Hardware. I purchased store bought curtains in a blue and beige stripe, and purchased bedding also in beiges and blues. The room remained like that for several years until I found out I was expecting a beautiful little girl." The room feels delicate, white-washed, and soft, an effect Lynette largely attributes to the draperies in the room. "I did not skimp on the fabric, and created full and lush draperies with white cotton twill. The white draperies and ruffled bed linens really lighten the space and add amazing texture and coziness to what could be a very stark room. Contrasting all the white with a light robin's egg blue gives the white some depth and keeps things from looking too monochromatic." The rooms also faces south, allowing beautiful natural light all day. The bedside lamp with a drum shade in a soft pint also helps bathe the room in a soft glow. Combine all these elements together and Alexis' nursery evokes a sense of calm and serenity. The complementing colors, however, are actually the stars of the room. This nursery was a lesson in layering a space with pieces you love until you achieve the look you envision. "I started with the intent of having a gender-neutral robin's egg blue, brown, and white color scheme simply because the room was already painted in my favorite shade. I added Restoration Hardware's Pin 30 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Dot baby bumper, quilt, and shams, also from their silver sage line. I added the white draperies, with blue and brown trim. Then, a white coverlet, ruffled sheets and bedskirt, as well as a few white picture frames, and other accessories. Most people probably would have stopped there. It was certainly adequate, if not beautiful. But the room just did not feel feminine enough for my taste even with the ruffles. I stood back and assessed the damage. Much to my chagrin, I knew what the room needed .pink! I actually love the shabby chic color scheme of pink, blue and cream. However, it was not at all what I had intended on ending up with when I started. But, I am so glad I did, and I couldn't be happier with how the space evolved. A beautiful soft pink adds that certain "Je ne sais quoi" to the room and injects it with a decidedly girly flair." Lynette describes draperies as her passion. "I feel like draperies are a rooms' clothing, and that a room is never polished without them. They add that necessary layer of softness and coziness." She knew that the draperies in Alexis' room were going to have a prominent role. "Without them, the room would never have the impact it has. They are the star in the room, and add the feminine softness and airiness. They everyone first notices about the room." Hanging them from ceiling to floor also gave the draperies a presence of grandeur to the room's design. The room's architecture was a challenge because it had an half-sized attic door on one wall, an oddly placed window on the main focal wall, and a couple of strange wall angles on the other side of the room. She used draperies to downplay these design dilemmas. "I adore canopies in any kids rooms, and knew I wanted a canopy above the crib, and it was a perfect solution for concealing that unsightly attic door. I also wanted the window covering to match the canopy since it was in such close proximity. I designed the curtains and canopy with long flowing panels and a scalloped box-pleated valance finished in robin's egg blue and brown trim. I added ribbon bows to the pleats for a more feminine feel once I found out I was having a girl. Lynette says she always has trouble finding the perfect accessory to properly fill the expanse of space above a bed. A canopy was the perfect solution functionally and visually. "I could not live 31 B www.BabyLifestyles.com in a nursery with a strange door, and even paint could not conceal it completely. The canopy is done in white cotton twill, with white panels and a scalloped, box pleated valance. The valence is accented with blue and brown tassel trim, and polka dot bows. "Pick your fabrics first," Lynette advises. "That is the starting point for a color scheme, wall color, and overall look. Also, choose something you will love, and not something you think the baby will like. That might sound a little self-centered, but honestly, babies don't even notice. You are the one who will spend the better part of your baby's first year in that room, so it has to be for the Mom too!" The butterfly mobile over Alexis' crib has a personal meaning to Lynette as the theme of her wedding included butterflies. Not wanting to make the whole nursery plastered with a butterfly theme, she used it as a nod to her wedding day. "Hanging something from the ceiling is functional and beautiful. I don't like mobiles attached to the crib frame I think they take away from the lines of the furniture." She fell in love with the crib verse immediately, and appreciated how it gave the crib a time-worn element to it. The four mirrors were originally black and gold before given a face lift of pink paint to add to the cottage feel. The cherry on the top of the room was the monogram, also the last thing done. It went through a number of failed incarnations before it had the impact Lynette was looking for. She had tried the hanging wooden letters with ribbon, and mounting them on round wooden dots to give them a 3d effect. Big fail. She also tried the simple approach of painting a really big letter brown and mounting it directly to the wall, but found it competed with the canopy for focal attention. When she went to the hospital to deliver with three names for her baby in mind. While she knew she wanted a monogram above her crib, she was unsure how to achieve an impact that would not get lost on the wall with a glamorous canopy taking center stage. "Since she was a girl, I decided it needed to be pink, and it needed to be ornate. I found a very ornate, yet unattractive gold Victorian frame. I thought it would work to frame an initial if I painted it. Since I was adding pink accents, I chose a ballet slipper colored spray paint, and gave it a moderate coat, but left some of the original color showing through to give it a shabby chic feel." 32 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Eclectic Cherry Blossoms for Brooklyn By Tara Steinle The pink and aqua colors are what served as inspiration for Cassandra in creating this girly nursery for her daughter Brooklyn. Originally starting with a pink and brown color theme in mind with only splashes of aqua, it slowly morphed into a light pink on hot pink with the splash of aqua with just a "little" bit of brown. Looking for a fun, happy room that could grow with her girls, Cassandra didn't want the room to be too babyish. "I finally decided to paint the walls the color that I really wanted and repainted them light aqua. The bluish/green color makes the pink look extra special and girly. It give the pink a "fresh" look. I love the combination, and then when I found the artwork for above the crib, I was in heaven. It pulled everything together perfectly! I love when everything comes together." After losing her first pregnancy at her 20 week appointment, Cassandra waited until week 32 to begin decorating the nursery. "Until I felt like we were really in the home stretch, even though everything was fine with this pregnancy, I couldn't bring myself to do the nursery. Once I was 32 weeks pregnant, it finally felt like it was going to happen and I better get the nursery ready for her to come home to." While Cassandra did not have a budget for this room, she considers herself very careful about what she splurges on. She spent less than $500 on everything in the entire room. The crib bedding was sewn by an Etsy vendor, the artwork was purchased with an online with a coupon. Her pink antique metal bed was bought at local consignment store and Cassandra customized and repainted both dressers herself. "I would consider myself an amateur/do-it-yourselfer. I just love designing and decorating." The wall design was one of her favorite projects. "I used painters tape to tape off the hot pink stripes. The detail around the artwork was hand painted, and I made B www.BabyLifestyles.com 33 "I wanted to create a room I love and makes me smile." 34 B www.BabyLifestyles.com my own stencil to connect the two hot pink stripes by drawing out my own design. I used inspiration from stationary borders. I found a design I liked and then by taping a few pieces of printer paper together and the paper was then folded in half, drawn and then cut out. The paper stencil was used to "pencil" the design on the wall so I could hand paint it in the hot pink paint. It took some time but was worth every minute. It's one of my favorite things about the room." The artwork was made a focal point by painting "frames" around the artwork by using painters tape, paint and a lot of patience. "It took me days to figure out how I was going to "end" the pink stripes once they got to the artwork. I didn't want an abrupt end to the stripe once it came to the artwork. Finding inspiration from stationary, it was the perfect way to the "'end" the stripe and now is my overall favorite detail of the nursery. It's girly, decorative and adds an element of unexpected to the room." The cherry blossom tree limb was inspired by the hand-painted design on the opposite side of the room. The cherry blossom tree limb was made to even out the room and give it two focal points. It is made entirely out of vinyl bought by the foot from a local craft store. Cassandra cut out all the blossoms by hand and kept adding tree limbs, twigs and blossoms until she liked the look of the limb. On Brooklyn's memorabilia shelf sits a heritage doll, handmade doll by Cassandra's friend with jewelry from her mother, who is Brooklyn's namesake. She also has her parasol from their trip to Hawaii and other fun items like vintage sign lettering. In love with the look of older lampshades with unique shapes and interesting angles, Cassandra created the unique ceiling fixtures. "You have to find the shades that have metal from top to bottom, and not all have it. I found the cool shaped lampshades at second-hand and thrift stores. I stripped the fabric off of them down to the metal, peeled off any glue and then painted them with krylon "watermelon" paint. They were hung with picture framing wire and eye hooks. I get asked all the time "how did you think of that?" because they say they never would have thought of that. I just really wanted to create a room I love and makes me smile." B www.BabyLifestyles.com bold graphic nursery By Tara Steinle After playing it safe on every other wall color in her home, Courtney let her imagination run free in her son Oliver's nursery room. "You cannot believe how many people thought I was crazy and hormonal when I picked black as the wall color," Courtney said of Oliver's nursery wall. She was yearning for a room that was modern and sophisticated yet fun and definitely non-traditional. Courtney went with this bold decision for two reasons. The first being that she could follow the fashion adage that black goes with everything. "I could pair whatever color I wanted with it, be it blue, orange, yellow, white, red, hot pink, whatever. Black offered me total flexibility." It also dealt with the reflective light from the skylight magnifying all other colors. That almost everything in Oliver's nursery was a DIY project is what Courtney says makes his room so special and affordable. The very first item Courtney bought is one of her favorites: the crib. It was an amazing four poster Bassett crib she considered her dream crib. However, in the store they retailed from $1400 to $2400. "I watched Craigslist for about six weeks until I finally found it. I ended up getting an amazing deal, and for $80 I got the crib and mattress." Riding high on her Craigslist cloud, Courtney waited until she knew Oliver would be a boy before deciding on what color to paint the originally white crib. While the graphic print pattern is what might be most striking, Courtney adores the equine artwork. "I adore his modern horse painting, because it feels unexpected. I feel like it sets the tone of the room and makes a huge impact." Rhinos also play a part in Oliver's space. A white rhino head is on his wall, wearing a party hat that Courtney made and took with her to the hospital. Oliver has since worn it for his birthday. "It was one of the first things I purchased after finding out it was a boy. I thought it would be funny and whimsical to hang in a boy's room and even funnier to hang under his "flying light bulb" flies. The light fixture was chosen for its mimicry of the wall pattern. A "steal", Courtney likes it because it adds a bling factor, but not a feminine one. The owl lamp has special meaning to her, as it was gift from her husband and was waiting for her when she came home with Oliver from the hospital. Courtney's biggest challenge was in creating this room was the lack of space. Her house is a cen- B www.BabyLifestyles.com 37 tury-year-old row home and space was not in abundance. Oliver's nursery is a mere 7x12 feet, with no windows, except a skylight. "Working around the lack of space and angles was a huge challenge, but we welcomed it. It just made us get smart, creative and realistic about the space we had. We also tried to bring everyone's eyes up, which is where the wall pattern helped us with that." For those looking to take the leap into territory like Courtney, she advises you to be bold. "I created a space I liked to be in as well as a space for him. He was an energetic baby before he was born, always kicking around so he needed something to match his personality. At the end of the day don't care too much about what other people think and just remember it's just design, it can always be changed. Don't be too afraid to experiment with more adult colors, fabrics, patterns etc. Go modern, be fun. Also, don't always make yourself stick to typical baby things, it is so much more fun to be creative. Rethink the longevity of a changing table, hunt for a crib with good bones ignore the color. It can be changed. Just dive into it get in there!" 38 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Hadley's Sweet Sanctuary By Tara Steinle B www.BabyLifestyles.com 39 For her daughter Hadley's nursery, Leah wanted to do a room that was timeless and could grow with her throughout her years. With a passion for decorating, instead of going with a nursery-in-a-box look, she created a room with design elements that she's always enjoyed. With the majority of her home already decorated in whites, creams and neutral tones, the soft room palette was assumed from the beginning. "My husband and friends tease me when they ask what `colors' I will be doing in certain rooms. I decided on the combo of pink and turquoise. "When I put some pink flowers in a turquoise vase in my kitchen � I thought `I must do this in the nursery'. This was before I knew what I was having so I prayed for a girl after that!" As Leah's husband was a student at the time, this nursery was designed under a very strict budget of $500. Her biggest purchase was the fabric for Hadley's room, which covered the crib bedding and skirt made by Leah's mom and sister, the drapes, and covers for the rocking chair and ottoman. She made purchases at second hand stores, Ikea and dollar stores and made good use of gift cards and coupons. Leah also reused items around her home such as the picture frames and repurposed items including the dresser. The dresser area had to be a functional one, as it is where Leah does all of her diaper and clothes changes. Instead of hiding her supplies away in an effort to keep everything looking good, she placed them all in baskets so that everything would still look cute. "I did a print above the dresser because I wanted something visual for her to look at as I changed her. Next to the print I hung the dress that we blessed her in at our church. I wanted to display it as a reminder to her of where she comes from." Because she was on a budget, Leah couldn't get the graphic wallpaper she wanted. To create the same visual effect, she painstakingly handstencilled a design for the entire the room. "I got the crazy idea in my head that I could get the same look for less by stencilling. I made the stencil using a quatrefoil graphic I found online and stencilling sheets." She worked meticulously on this project every night after work and all day on Saturdays for almost two months for the finished look. 40 B www.BabyLifestyles.com One of Leah's favorite details of the nursery was the DIY plate display on the wall. To make the plates, she found images of cartoon animals online, printed them, cut them out, and traced the silhouettes onto scrapbooking paper. "I then cut out the silhouettes and modge-podged them onto the plates. It's one of the more childish elements in the room, but they can easily be changed out as she gets older." Not wanting to put a generic plastic mobile in her daughter's room, she made one using branches she found on a walk through the forest. "I then spray painted them white, cut them down to size, and attached them together in an x shape using a screw through the x point. I made birds out of scrapbooking paper and attached them with ribbon. It moves with any sort of breeze and keeps her little eyes occupied." "Important advice I could give parents when doing their nurseries is to really evaluate how they will be using it," Leah said. "I have friends that never use their nurseries. The baby doesn't sleep there, they do not do their diaper changes in there, and they do not rock their baby in the rocking chair. These friends told me to do without a rocking chair and that a change table was unnecessary. But I looked at myself, and I knew that my baby was going to have a schedule and routine. I would not be changing her diaper on the living room floor, and she would have a bedtime and not just fall asleep in my arms downstairs on the couch so I needed a rocking chair. I also knew that I am a light sleeper so I would not be using a bassinette but baby would go straight to the crib. Knowing these things about myself helped me to create a nursery that I really do use and that is super functional for me." Leah also advises that parents should go with design elements that you like. "You are really decorating it for you. Your baby doesn't care what it looks like. But you will, as you spend hours in your nursery feeding, changing, and burping! I think of it like this: Would I put Winnie the Pooh in any other room in my house that I wanted to feel relaxing and beautiful? Probably not! Then he shouldn't be in my nursery either." Sorry Pooh Bear. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 41 Ruby And Scarlett's Ruby And Scarlett's Magic Twin Nursery Magic Twin Nursery By Lauren Halperin By Lauren Halperin B www.BabyLifestyles.com 42 Heather was wearing a crazy hot pink skirt with orange tulle when she married her husband in Las Vegas. It's no wonder why this mom of twins-- and a capuchin monkey--didn't want to have a clich� nursery for her girls. While she says she wasn't one for antique hunting before `rehabbing' her 1883 brick Victorian home, "when you live in a house with an old soul, filling it exclusively with new furniture kills its spirit a bit." After ten years of infertility in the form of 6 prior miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities and many pregnancy losses, Heather never really dared to dream about her ideal baby room, so I started to hunt around online for the perfect theme. On the second try of IVF with aCGH chromosomal testing she got amazingly lucky and thanks to some pretty fantastic doctors she was given the news of expecting twin girls. "They sure were cute in their first photo when they only had a few hundred cells!" Once she crossed the threshold of her second trimester, she gave herself license to dream of her girls' nursery. And she dreamed in bold colors. "All I knew I was that wanted something bright. Real bright, like hot pink and orange bright. I'm just not one for pastels and sticky sweet cuteness. I quickly discovered that I was screwed in the world of baby bedding and I was bummed. Then, there it was in all its bright pink, non-cartoony, monkey-adorned glory...and on final clearance at Pottery Barn Kids, of all places! It was one of those moments when I feel sky open to bathe me in the light of the shopping gods. Despite my overwhelming nervousness about it being too early along in my pregnancy to be buying, it was just too good of a deal to pass up. I seriously think someone designed this stuff specifically with me in mind. It was my first baby purchase, and the first time I really started believe that I was going to actually be a mom." Armed with a design direction, Heather spent the remainder of her pregnancy finding and blending the rest of the bits and pieces to pull it all together. She kept the neutral wall color and walnut flooring the room inherited from its prior life as her husband's office. "It really grounds the room and calms the bold prints. By sheer luck, it coordinated beautifully with the curtains and bedding. Amazingly, the grays and browns are echoed in the jungle design." After waiting to design her dream nursery for half a lifetime, Heather let herself splurge on some big stuff, hunted for bargains where she could, and made the rest. "That's the meat of the project and the fun part." The fun artwork is a poster print she found years ago on eBay and had framed. She made the mobiles with custom sets of painfully cute needle-felted toys, bamboo purse handles, ribbon and "craft store randomness." She also added fun and funky touches like the orange side table. "I found the little guy at HomeGoods and couldn't stop laughing. I fondly call him GiraffePig." Heather printed baby photos of her and her husband in black and white and placed them in funky, bright frames on the picture ledge. "I also put my treasured childhood teddy bear, uber-creatively named Ted Bear, in their room to keep the lil' gals company. Having him around really makes me realize how my life has come full-circle!" As a mom of multiples, Heather was plagued by the usual problem of needing two of several items and a small room to put them in. "I removed the closet door in favor of a curtain, otherwise we wouldn't have had room for the changing table/hutch. The small space actually forced me 43 B www.BabyLifestyles.com to edit, so it ended up working in my favor. Turns out, you really don't need much room in a nursery � in our case, it's really only used for snoozing and storing their wardrobe." A pair of Martine Iron cribs from Restoration Hardware were Heather's nursery splurge. "I knew in my gut they were perfect, and thanks to a monetary gift from the grandparents--thanks thanks mo--and RH's multiples discount, I was able to justify the splurge. The room is so small that two heavy wooden cribs would have just totally dominated the space." The finishing touch on the room was the name sign, which she didn't order until they were all home from the hospital, since we waited to name the girls. "I refused to name them until I held them and saw their sweet faces I wanted to make sure their names suited them perfectly." She chose the names Ruby and Scarlett, which fit both them and their room. "In the end, it's my dream nursery and it still brings a massive smile to my face every time I walk through the door. I still feel all the love and hope I put into it while my little ladies were still cooking away inside me...and somehow I know the girls feel the love too. Maybe that's why they lay down peacefully in their cribs every night and go to sleep without a peep and wake up with a smile. I think there's just a lil' bit of magic in there." Making Magic Happen: Crib � Restoration Hardware Martine Iron Canopy Cribs Bedding � Pottery Barn Kids Emmy Collection Dresser � Westwood Design Dakota Collection (dresser & hutch/bookcase combo) Chair � Used Dutailier glider found on Craigslist, recovered with a Luxe Basics dot minky slip cover Wall paint color - Ralph Lauren UL26 Lamp Room Grey (walls) & UL20 Chrome (trim) Rug - Glenna Jean Round Tangerine Rug Flooring - Harris-Tarkett, Artisan Fieldstone (Hand Scraped), Walnut Slate 44 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com Pearson's Luxury Retreat By Lauren Halperin B www.BabyLifestyles.com When it came to designing her daughter Pearson's nursery, Amy was envisioning something timeless, classy and all white. "I thought I was absolutely crazy," Amy shared. Luckily a friend gave her the validation she was yearning for and the great advice of "if you can wash it, it doesn't matter what color it is." Amy set out to create a young Hollywood glamour feel for Pearson's room. "But one where you can take your shoes off and get comfortable. I wanted the end result to be comfortable and versatile so that some of the pieces could grow with her. I wanted it to be a room she would want to hang out in." I love. A traditional piece recovered in a modern fabric wood with acrylic " Amy combed through catalogues and magazines and found the girl baby rooms seemed to be a pink/brown or pink/green combination. While there were many she thought were beautiful, she was seeking something she wouldn't tire of quickly or lose its trendy status. "I know it won't be long before she is demanding a purple room so I decided on the simple color palate to begin." Neutrals, creams and whites give Pearson's room the polished and elegant look. The tufted chair was Amy's grandmother's, which she had recovered in a off-white velvet. White linen grommet curtain panels compliment the roman shades for the window decor. The mirror was a decade-old purchase which was given a spray paint face lift, giving Amy the exact result she The room had been recently painted a soft blue, not in anticipation of a boy, but because Amy was aiming for a spa-like guest bedroom. When she found out she was expecting a girl, she rethought the colors and design. "I love many different styles so my favorite is to blend things 48 B www.BabyLifestyles.com was looking for over Pearson's crib wall. She went having tickle fights on it. We also sit and read with a semi-gloss paint for the walls with the mind- many books there." set that Pearson is a baby and "you can't clean flat paint." Since Pearson's room has five large windows and a windowpane door, Amy is very judicious Entering Pearson's nursery, the first thing a visitor with wall space. "Art gets some precious real sees is a canvas print by Skylar Reeves of Pear- estate around here." She wanted a great bulson lying on a small sheepskin rug in her tutu. "It letin board for art, pictures, invitations, memenlooks as if she is going to sleep." Turn and you'll tos and more. She ordered a bulletin board and see a llama picture, which is a print of a painting bought some fabric, took it to Michaels and had by Amy's mother. The beautiful monogram was a it framed. "The purpose of the board is to disgift from one of Amy's talented friends. play Pearson memories. It is really the only shot of color in the room. I rotate items on the board The mirrored dresser upped the glamour ante in and try to emphasize her life and creativity more the room, without having a literal `princess' feel. than anything else in the room." With just the right amount of glitz to make any nursery feel luxurious, it's also functional as "My favorite detail is actually how much natural Pearson's changing table. The ultra soft sheep- light Pearson's room gets and how the feeling skin rug lends some regal texture and also pro- changes throughout the day and throughout the vides a royal play area. "We love rolling around year." B www.BabyLifestyles.com 49 50 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Kristen Fountain spends her time creating and thinking about new things to make. An independent decorative painter, she graduated Georgia State University with a degree in Fine Arts and a concentration in drawing. She paints walls, canvases, ceilings and furniture. Of all the rooms, nurseries are her favorite. "I love that parents are putting their heart and soul into creating a new space for their future baby, and they are usually willing to get pretty creative with it. The whimsy and happy feel that they always seem to capture is the best part of creating nursery spaces." She answered a few questions about nursery designs, inspiration, and shared some of her favorite nursery creations with us. What type of client do you like best? It's always fun to work with a client that has something already in mind, and see their idea come to life, however, I also love when there is nothing, and I get to dream up something new and exciting. I always have new ideas that I haven't implemented yet, so I love getting to create those as well. you can just paint over it when you are tired of it! Do you see a trend to more modern nurseries? Babies' rooms should be another extension of the house, so the room should feel like the rest of your home does. How much do you like to use color? How do you pick the colors for nurseries? Color is my favorite thing. Clashing, matching, complementary - I love it all. I went through a "White" phase, but quickly morphed out of it...I can't help but be attracted to it. Generally, we pick colors based off of bedding. It helps the non-design-minded have something to "go off" of. What is your best decorating advice? I was told not be afraid to break the "rules". I tell others that you don't always have to buy "baby furniture". Be creative! A waist-high dresser is a perfect changing table if you place a changing pad on top! Buy an old chair and have it reupholstered in your favorite fabric, so you have Trees in nurseries are very in. What do you like about something unique. And hide your Diaper Genies! hand-painted trees? Your trellis patterns often look like wallpaper. Are In the past few years, I've painted about 100 white trees on the wall! I think parents like the idea of the "family parents afraid of wallpaper in the nursery? I love how versatile the trellis pattern is - it looks great in tree", and the cute birds that I often paint on them. They the calm pearly-silver that I have recently being doing also fit with lots of themes - jungle themes, animal with light, grayish basecoats, but I could also see it being themes, etc. painted in white, on top of an orange wall. I think in general, a lot of people are afraid of wallpaper. It's all the rage What do you like about painting murals by hand? right now, but let's not forget the tacky fruit-scapes that Everything! I love challenges, and sometimes they propeople were un-wallpapering off of their walls a few years vide a challenge. It's just always fun to have something ago - that stuff is not fun to try and get down! Paint is new to work on. much easier to deal with in the long run, especially when B www.BabyLifestyles.com 51 a. I just play around with my brush and paint, and do what makes sense in the room. Sometimes, I'll grab a children's book in the room, and look at it for inspiration. I think parents and children alike appreciate whimsical, personalized touch, so they want to have something personal that they can look back on and see themselves in. It was my client's idea to make a stencil based off of the lamp, and I was able to come up with the pattern and create the stencil within about an hour. It took me about 6 hours to paint it all on. 52 B www.BabyLifestyles.com While many parents would shy away from something so vibrant, my natural inclination is towards color and pattern. It's never even something that I have to talk myself into. I loved the stencil! I created it specifically for this room. I adore this client's taste, she has a wonderful design sensibility and I love her natural inclination to mix preppy with modern. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 53 By Lauren Halperin Behind the Design with Sherri Blum Nursery artist and designer Sherri Blum giggles when she thinks about how she decorated her own sons' nurseries, with her oldest now 18 and recently graduating high school. Blum and her husband purchased their first home, a townhouse when she was eight months along. Not knowing her baby's gender, she decorated the tiny 9'x11' room in pale green and white with tiny touches of yellow. Her parents purchased a white Jenny Lind style crib and her mother-in-law bought the bedding. She filled it with family photos and her husband's grandmother's favorite recliner for late night feedings. "This was the 90's and we didn't have near the design options available to us then that mothers have today! I 54 don't know that I would change much about their nursery today. It was a small room, but functioned well for us and was filled with so much love and many tender moments. I remember nursing my babies late at night in that old recliner and enjoying every moment. What I would give to go back for even one day." Blum has always been the artistic type, doodling and sketching since she could hold a pencil and loves putting her talents to use designing beautiful rooms for her clients. With more than a decade of interior design experience in creating memorable, one-of-a-kind nurseries and children's rooms, Blum's oft-touted, distinctive and inspiring creative touch have earned her an B www.BabyLifestyles.com esteemed reputation as the premiere "designer of choice" not only for Hollywood celebrity clients, but also the family next door. A graduate from Loyola University in Maryland, Sherri has completed a decorator training program with DTI, Decorator's Training Institute. She is a Professional Member of Certified Interior Decorators International and an Associate Member of IDS, Interior Design Society. "Oh how I love my job," Blum exclaimed. "I love waking up and doing what comes naturally to me- and that's designing. Nothing makes me happier than playing with fabrics and paint chips all day. They're like my "big girl" crayons! But the very best part is having the opportunity to share in the greatest joy in life and that's the preparation for and arrival of a baby. Being a mother is the greatest honor I have experienced in my life and something I don't take for granted. I enjoy experiencing these precious moments with my expectant clients and guiding them through the preparations." Sherri opened her first interior design company, Bare Walls Design Co. in 2000, and has since opened Jack and Jill Interiors in 2001, which specializes in the design of children's rooms. She especially enjoys decorating children's spaces because she can interact with the child to discover his or her unique personality and express that personality through her room design. "My first responsibility is to my clients, listening to their needs and wants," Blum added. "With each design, my goal is to create a beautiful baby's nursery or child's room that reflects the needs and personal style of the clients, while always remaining sensitive to the clients' budget. From concept to completion of each design project, I focus on meeting the practical needs of my clients, while maintaining stylish, cohesive design with a personalized touch." Because Blum enjoys a challenge, she has never set a minimum, allowing her to try to provide a designer look on almost any budget. While she's created designs that have cost upwards of $30,000, she has also completed a designer nursery from scratch for under $2,000. "I'm a "handy woman" and love reworking family heirlooms or even thrift store finds. A can of spray paint can do wonders for repurposed light fixtures, frames and furniture!" Blum says while most clients have a general idea of how they might want to arrange a room, she enjoys the ones who come not knowing what they want. "It allows me to really get the creative juices flowing from B www.BabyLifestyles.com 55 Sherri Blum's Tips While each room is different, Blum always considers these tips when approaching each new design project. 1. Choose wall color last. Choose your paint color last to complement everything else in the room. "This one is often difficult to convince the client. They feel as if they have to commit to paint first. Instead, I begin with the furniture selections. Once that is chosen, we move on to the bedding fabrics and style that will complement the furniture style chosen (ie: modern, traditional, etc). Once the fabrics are selected, we then select the paint color and all other accessories dependent on the colors within the fabrics. Paint selection becomes very easy once the fabric is chosen." 2. Your furniture is not under arrest. Pull the furniture away from the walls! "Clients often want to line the perimeter of the room with furniture and keep the center open. I don't always win this battle." 3. Everything is a box set. Don't get too matchy. "This one is uncomfortable for those type A personalities. I tell them that anyone can buy the entire matching furniture set, but if they want a more interesting room- one that everyone else on the block doesn't havethat they have to trust me to select coordinating pieces that will give their room a unique and beautiful appeal." Right: Buddy Valastro's nursery Cake Boss Buddy Valastro's baby nursery B www.BabyLifestyles.com the start. Many have a color palette in mind, but even those ideas tend to change once we begin discussing the space, various functions the space will need to meet, and long-term goals for the room." For much of the past decade, clients were coming to her with color palette ideas more than themes. "I believe this was due to the fact that bedding designers were beginning to stray from the traditional baby blue and pink and clients were loving the unique new color palettes that were emerging and becoming more acceptable. They wanted to be on trend with the new color palettes." Lately Blum is seeing the theme requests cycle around again. "I do love a theme in a nursery, but I'm also practical. I advise the client that if they invest in a $4,000 wall mural, that they should either select one that can grow into various themes with their child, or be prepared to paint over it when the child hits about age eight and decides their mural is too babyish. It's difficult for expectant parents to envision their unborn baby as an older child or teen, but I feel it's important when designing a nursery to plan ahead to avoid costly redesign." To illustrate this point, Blum remembers what it was like when she was a first-time parent. Her crib was merely a crib and had no use after the first few years of her son's life. It was the same with changing tables, as Blum found herself selling both pieces and having to buy a completely new set of furniture for her growing child. "Parents today have the opportunity to avoid that added expense and hassle," she remarked. "There are dozens of convertible cribs on the market today that transition from crib to toddler bed, to full size bed. Changing tables are a thing of the past with today's dressers doubling as a changing table simply with the addition of a changing tray that can be removed when no longer in use. When selecting a rocker/glider, we choose a style and fabric that will allow the chair to either stay and grow with that child or can be used in another room of the house when no longer needed in the nursery. We often select neutral chair colors that work well with either the master bedroom or a family room. We plan ahead and always try to be more practical when it comes to the larger purchases for the space." It is this reason that Blum often steers clear of elaborate murals with nursery rhyme or storybook characters. "These are too quickly outgrown by a child. Some murals however can grow with your child and can be a good investment as well as look great with today's styles. An outdoor scene with a countryside and blue skies, grass and trees B www.BabyLifestyles.com 57 can easily work with changing themes." It is the both the current and future function of the space which shapes how Blum approaches each nursery room. She asks parents questions such as "Will this nursery also be used as a guest room?" and "Will this always be this child's room or will the child be moved into another room in a few years as they outgrown the nursery?" Then she considers how the child's needs will change. "I often encourage parents to consider built-in wall units in small bedrooms, regardless of the future use. By building a wall unit you are converting the room's vertical space into storage with shelves for toys and books as well as cabinet storage below or a desk/vanity area for use by others who share the room or to be used as a future homework location for the growing child. Window seats can store toys or blankets while providing a cozy area for reading." What I recommend to my clients is to select one or two non-gender-specific colors that will carry the main elements of the room prior to the birth of the baby. (Bedding, window treatments, furniture and paint- those more expensive and time consuming elements that must be in place prior to baby's birth.) But save a few less expensive accessories for after the child's birth. Those ac- cessories can then be gender specific and focus on a more masculine or feminine color that coordinates well with the basic colors already present in the room. For example, GRAY is touted by many as the "color of the decade" and is showing up in nurseries and home d�cor everywhere. You could use a warmer gray hue such as Benjamin Moore's Light Pewter on the walls of your nursery and select bedding in neutral colors of gray and white or even mix in yellow, green or a soft pumpkin orange in the bedding fabric. Then when the baby is born, accent the room with blue or a sweet salmon pink depending on gender. These gender specific, last minute accessories could be lamp shades, area rugs, artwork, curtain tie-backs, photo frames and more. From her line of signature nursery products to her masterful designing of rooms, Blum's influence has been on celebrity rooms including Tori Spelling, John O'Hurley, Mario Lopez, Jodie Sweetin, Angela Kinsey, Bart Scott, to name a few. Her favorite celebrity job was creating a sanctuary for Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and his wife Lisa's fourth baby Carlo. They did not want to know the gender of their baby prior to birth, and therefore desired a gender-neutral baby nursery. While Lisa desired a traditional elegant nursery, Buddy wanted a 58 B www.BabyLifestyles.com whimsical Jungle Safari themed nursery. Blum compromised by blending the two ideas together along with silk dupioni fabrics, elegant custom fixtures and beautiful traditional furniture. "Not only were they great people and gracious clients, but filming for the Baby Special episode was a blast! It was interesting to see all that goes into creating a television episode and all of the people it takes to bring it all together." The icing on the cake was that Buddy surprised Lisa with a replica of the entire nursery made out of cake for her baby shower! Who else can say their nursery design was "immortalized in cake" by The Cake Boss, himself?! Not being a stranger to designing celebrity nursery spaces, Blum understands the demands of creating a room for famous offspring. "We're all interested in having a peek inside these most intimate spaces created for the new little bundle of joy. Celebrity nurseries are heavily scrutinized and must meet the expectations of fans and reflect the style that the celebrity is known for. There is definitely pressure to properly reflect their personal style and to create something that will properly show the fans how excited the couple is for the birth of their baby. As soon as the announcement is made that the couple is expecting, magazines are vying for the exclusive rights to feature the nursery. That's a lot of pressure for both celebrity and their chosen nursery designer. Celebrities are extremely busy as well. While they strive to be as hands on as possible in putting the nursery together, realistically they need us there to handle more of the little details than the average couple." More rewarding than designing celebrity nurseries is the work Blum does for various charities. Blum donates a portion of her monthly proceeds to St. Jude Children's Hospital. Currently, she is working pro bono for the Make a Wish Foundation creating a fairy garden playroom for a little girl in Wisconsin. "Her therapy and recovery takes place mostly at home so this would give her a special space to just play and be a little girl." Her fairy garden will include a 3D tree with twinkling lights, a custom designed daisy-shaped reading pedestal large enough for her and a friend, an art corner, dress-up area, tea party area, and a slide. Blum is also bringing in one of my favorite muralists to paint a beautiful fairy forest on one wall. "The way I see it, I make a living on kids' products and design. I should certainly share my blessings with those children and families who are less fortunate." Blum knows a child's environment has a direct impact on their outlook each day. She says to consider your child's personality and the colors that will give the room the type of environment your child needs and desires. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 59 Sunshine and Sorbet Baby Shower tn By Chriistina Nease B www.BabyLifestyles.com Baby showers are one of the most joyful occasions and ar ea great time to bring family and firends together in support of mom-to-be and baby. An outdoor summer shower affords more space, beautiful natural surroundings, and a more casual atmosphere overall. This backyard baby shower was inspired by sherbet colors, easy picnic style, and summer sunshine. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 61 Lime green and pineapple yellow were our `flavors' of choice for this outdoor shower. Sunshine-friendly, picnic style lunches of turkey subs and veggie chips were served in paper lined plastic baskets adding to the al fresco feel. The theme comes full circle as lime and pineapple sherbet are served in tiny scoops in a glass dish, the perfect size for no-melt enjoyment. 1 Fresh air friendly food For a bit of `baby' influence, the centerpiece made of daisies is placed inside of baby bottles, and flanked with baby food jars filled with floral beads. Baby showers are far more sophisticated now and we love the idea of tailoring your theme to the mother-to-be. Baby touches were added in the tiny pacifiers tied around the water bottles. Printed papers by Parties by Hardy were made to support Operation Shower. Download your free set here. Subtle baby touches of decor 2 Glass water bottles can be recycled, and the green color matches the outdoor scenery perfectly. Even the bamboo forks were biodegradable. We opted for small cloth napkins which can be washed instead of thrown away. Whether you are eco-conscious or not, these are all stylish and Earth-friendly ideas to incorporate and make it easy to clean up! 3 Think green! 62 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 63 Endless Summer Party Styling, Printables and Photography by One Sweet Party Watermelon and raspberry punch poured into an hallowed out watermelon adds a fantastic statement table decoration. The green ombre cake was pink-colored vanilla with mini chocolate chips for "seeds", when sliced it gave the appearance of a watermelon. A handmade paper bouquet decorated the center of the table. This simple DIY project was made by cutting out coordinating color paper and gluing them together. The End of Summer party collection printables brought everything together. Designed around a watermelon color palette, everything is pink, red, green and cream with a great summer feel. Snacks included tomato, basil & mozzarella crostinis, BLT sandwiches, and baked mac & cheese. The table featured apple and watermelon sailboats, watermelon bites topped with fluff cream cheese and mint, and refreshing melon skewers. Pink cupcakes with chocolate chips, watermelon iced cookies, and paper cones filled with cotton candy and popcorn are refreshing summer desserts. 66 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 67 Baby Lifestyles is proud to announce the launch of our materniety and newborn photography section. Photography by Joriann Maye Keegan 68 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 69 70 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 71 Baby Shower Photography Tips Baby Shower Photography Tips with Amanda Bevington with Amanda Bevington B www.BabyLifestyles.com Do clients give you a 'must take' shot list? Some clients like to send a few shots that they would really like, however, mostly they just let me document the day. I always cover the details prior to an event. I ask them to send me what inspires them, but also to create a `must take' if they feel it necessary. When I am professionally shooting personal events, I always say that you must love and trust me stylistically 100%. If you don't 100% love what I create, then you should to find someone else. That is bold, but it's the truth. Not everyone shares that philosophy, but it works for me, and with the trust of my client, I am able to create with authenticity and truth. I love to work very closely with my clients, and during our initial consultation, we really get into their vision for their event. I prefer to keep what I do very personal, so that it feels more like creative collaboration than "work." But behind the scenes, I do everything I can prior to a shoot to research the scope of the project, so that I am prepared for the big day, and it feels effortless and smooth. It's truly amazing. detail that went into planning. I like to show up early and watch the final preparations happening. I am extremely visual, and I like to immerse myself into an environment to "feel" what is happening, so that I can react with my camera, rather than manipulate what is taking place. The invitation sets the stage for an event, and every last detail from food, to flowers, to flatware is important. Gifts, gift tags, sign-in books, sweets, d�cor for sure! It's all important .but somehow, it's the smallest little personal detail � often times with someone in the frame � which make the most impact � a personal human connection is most important. It's about the baby after all � so the images which illustrate the celebration, are often the most memorable. Why do amateurs feel they can take pictures like a professional? So much goes into being a professional photographer. It's not just clicking a shutter. Above being stellar on a technical level, it's investing in the people that you have the honor of celebrating. Knowing what they value and connecting with them What are some of the details you like to make on a personal level. That's not to say even the most sure you get for a baby shower? seasoned pro will skip a detail .but that's where When I photograph an event, I think about every you need to know your client. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 73 What's your advice for taking a nice picture of the scene? Do you prefer with people or without? Both. People add life to a photograph. Even when I'm photographing details, I like to incorporate a person reaching for food, so you catch a hand, and know what is happening we all know that we eat the food, but when you see someone reaching for it, you feel a more personal and casual connection to it. You as the viewer, can visualize yourself there at the party. You identify with it on a personal level. Beautiful details set the scene, but people make the party! How do you photograph `non-party' details? I'm always respectful of private spaces. I treat the space as I would my own home, and think about what I would want someone to see in my personal space. I think about what is in the frame before I shoot. I think about how spaces lead into a party scene. Some great shots are made from afar with a voyeuristic point-of-view. As if from the point-ofview from a passerby just glanced thru the doorway, or thru a window, to see what's happening inside. Those shots feel effortless and interesting to me. Break it down to the most simple steps what do you do with a door? You open it and walk thru do that with your camera. That There are so many details in a baby shower. comes with time and with feeling comfortable in the How do you get the detail? space you are working in. I have a tendency to just I look at a scene from every angle. And I shoot, make myself right at home � and I think my clients shoot, shoot .one detail shot of a cake is never appreciate that. enough. More is better in this case. If the client spent months planning every last detail, then the What's your best photography advice for baby details deserve more than one frame. shower photography? What about a child's birthday party? Cakes and cupcakes are a focal dessert point. Keep it natural, un-staged, and free-flowing. Don't How do you take a good cake shot? try to manipulate the situation. Especially when it We all have our own unique technical styles. I like comes to children. Let them be free and happy to shoot a cake in all of it's forms if possible. I think and join in the fun. The best shots come from playthat I make some of the best shots of sweets, when ing with kids. They respond to other kids. Find I quickly shoot a half-eaten cupcake, that a party your inner child � let yourself be free � be patient guest has abandoned on a plate somewhere. The and celebrate life. The goal is to tune into the pure messy crumbs and melty frosting are authentic. Of moments and feel what you are capturing. A huge course I shoot clean details of the sweets before part of what I do, is feeling. I create from feeling. guests arrive, but I like to capture a table after I feel what I create. My photographs evoke an guests have had their way with the food. That feels emotional response. That is what I strive for and real to me. what I need to do. Dessert buffets are on trend at baby showers. What's your advice to get a good photo of one? I have to shoot them from every angle, and I think about every party guest approaching that table. Are they big or small?. I think about approaching a scene from a child's point-of-view wondering what awaits on that dessert table. It's childhood fantasy really. Who doesn't love that sense of "Willy Wonka"? A dessert table is just pure indulgence. Table displays dictate how they are photographed. I respond to height and color. I try to incorporate all of it. Sometimes it is several different shots that combine to make the perfect illustration of the scene. How is taking pictures of a baby shower different from a bridal shower? It is a different kind of celebration. The emotions are different. Every celebration has expectations and it's just reading the expectations, and knowing the environment you are stepping into. Being a Mommy (and at one time a "Mommy-to-be") shapes how I respond to an event. Life experience definitely fuels each of us in our career, and my career just happens to be celebrating life. It sort of goes hand in hand and I'm fortunate that way. Each experience makes me wiser, increases emotional depth, and in turn, makes my "work" more expressive. 74 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 75 76 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 77 By Lauren Halperin Photographs by Joriann Maye Keegan Princess Kierra's Glass Slipper Ball You are cordially invited to B www.BabyLifestyles.com Ever since her visit to Disney World, Kierra has been enamored with all things Princess, wishing out loud that her fourth birthday party would be her dream come true. With Cinderella being her favorite of the princesses, her mom Joriann set out to make it a dream party she could forever make a wish on at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. Joriann set the theme for her Cinderella party with the iconic glass slipper. "I wanted it to feel like it was a real ball, and `A Glass Slipper Ball' seemed like a catchy title, that and each little girl received a glass slipper with their invitation, and it was all themed around the slipper." It also doesn't hurt to turn your daughter onto a love for shoes at a very young age! Invitations suites by Anna Griffin were typeset by Joriann and incorporated the Hotel's logo. There was the invitation card, which fit into the glitter card holder, a reply card, and a directions card. "I also added a few little touches, like the little tiffany blue flowers, which were actually BRIDES� Blue Floral Table Confetti." On the invitation, each little girl was asked to come dressed in royal attire as their favorite princess. "My favorite ones were the DIY princesses," Joriann said. "A couture looking pink princess outfit that little Ellie wore was adorable, her mom Christine made it from strips of multi shaded pink tulle. She ripped it into different length strips and tied them onto an elastic waistband, it came amazing! Another was the little white winter princess, she was dressed in white silk with a fur jacket." Once all the royal guests arrived, they descended the sweeping staircase of the `Palace' to see the beautiful Princess Anastasia arrive in her horse drawn coach. The birthday girl climbed in to meet the Princess, and groups of friends took turns riding in the fairytale carriage. On their way into the Royal Poinciana ballroom, each child was formally announced. "Introducing Her Royal Highness, Princess Grace " and so on, as one by one, they entered to applause from the crowd. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 79 80 B www.BabyLifestyles.com The Royal Table was set in the spin on the creative "Fairytale Chic" theme, decorated with pearl and crystal draped candelabras, and glass bubbles floating in a field of roses and blue hydrangeas. Above the table, a canopy of tulle was draped, with silver balls at each end. The gold chiavari chairs were tied with blue tulle bows. Amazing glass dripping chandeliers were hung over the table. Each child's place setting included a glass slipper and wand, a silver and blue gilded place card frame, a custom monogrammed slipper cookie, and personalized mini water bottles. Once seated, a plated lunch was served at the Royal Table. Each plate had two mini tea sandwiches on it, egg salad shaped like a butterfly, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches shaped like flowers, with a center cutout that showed the jelly. There was watermelon shaped like a princess crown, and a little shot glass filled with dip, and vegetable sticks. The princesses sipped on Shirley Temples and ate their flower shaped tea sandwiches, and crown shaped melon. The royal chaperones were treated to an unbelievable spread as well in true Four Seasons style with sandwiches, wraps, hand dipped fruit, and even a tea butler who mixed custom made Iced teas. With any princess theme party there's got to be bling! Kierra's tiara was made of Swarovski crystals and each of the 27 guest princesses received a rhinestone tiara at their plate along with a matching wand. For extra glitz, a jewelry station was set where each little princess was fitted with bracelets and clip on earrings. Glass slippers were in abundance as the theme of the day. Each little princess got their own glass slipper, as well as a personalized blue slipper-shaped cookie with their name on it. After dining, they adjourned to the "Enchanted Garden," where a Unicorn was waiting to greet them. "Kierra's favorite animal is a unicorn. I didn't have the heart to tell her they didn't exist. So we made our own." The girls pet the unicorn, and posed for photos throughout the garden. Outside the little princesses had a ball searching for apples while playing Snow White's Poison Apple Hunt. On this hot day, white-gloved waiters wandered the garden serving trays of water to the royals off. When lunch ended, unprovoked, dozens of dancing, laughing, jumping, twirling, spinning, singing little girls took the dance floor by storm. "In no time it was like Princesses gone Wild." A few of the more civilized royals opted to go off to the land of make believe with some pretend castle play. Soon it was time for games! The princesses played Pass the Slipper (like Hot Potato), and did the `Bibbity Bobbity Boo Wand Dance." Then it was time to "Kiss the Frog." Each little girl was given red lips with their names on them, blind folded, spun around and sent to pin the kiss on the frog prince. But alas, even with a face covered in kisses, he remained just an amphibian with a crown. The royal cake was a masterpiece. Each layer was a different player with two Belgian and white chocolate layered and one in Nutty Carrot 81 B www.BabyLifestyles.com cake. "It was too pretty to eat, but I'm so glad I did. If you have never tasted the Nutty Carrot Cake at the Four Seasons, it is to die for! Trust me, It is one of those bucket list moments." The Hotel's team of pastry chefs created a table of royal shaped sugar cookies with edible pearls, blue iced cupcakes with crown shaped chocolate toppers, and white chocolate lollipops shaped like castles and stage coaches. "The pearled cookies were both pretty and yummy. The white chocolate coach, castle and princess pops were a big hit. The cupcakes featured a blue chocolate crown atop a mountain of icing, which in no time covered most of the little princesses' faces." While it wasn't the plan, the princesses helped Kierra open all her presents at the party. "The girls organized it themselves, amazingly enough. Kierra sat on a bench, and each girl came up and gave her their present, and sat and opened it with her. Then she hugged them and gave them their present/favor from her." There were also custom tagged party bags that had some goodies in it too for each girl. As the clock struck five, upon leaving the ball, each Princess received a custom tagged Four Seasons gift bag, to help haul out out all the goodies, including, frames, cookies, lollipops, wands, glass slippers, jewelry and a wrapped gift. Kierra's Glass Slipper fairy godmothers Four Seasons Special Events: Amanda Brinks, Denise Lebel, Crystal Prante Cake and Custom Goodies: Pastry Chefs at The Four Seasons Palm Beach Table D�cor: Camden Gardens Floral Mini Horse Drawn Carriage + Unicorn: Miniature Cream Parties Princess Anastasia: Gerda 72 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Growing the Love Baby Shower Photography by Tiffany Wayne B www.BabyLifestyles.com Nicole's baby shower was simply stunning. Taking place at the Burroughs Home & Gardens in downtown Fort Myers, Florida, it is the perfect historic riverfront venue for a beautiful celebration. With all the hard work that goes into the details of an event, it's the details you want to remember. On this beautiful sunny day, photographer Tiffany Wayne made sure she got every detail of the day. She shares with us some of her tips to getting beautiful baby shower photography like at Nicole's baby shower. Tiffany generally doesn't have a specific backdrop in mind when she photographs an event. "Once I arrive to the venue, usually within the first 20 minutes I'll know exactly what needs to be photographed and what angle works best. If I see something that needs to be moved for a picture I'll move it, but it really differs from each shoot. Pretend you're hosting the event-what would you want to remember? What details are important? When you ask yourself those questions the rest falls into place." B www.BabyLifestyles.com 86 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 87 Cirque Du Surprise Bebe Shower By Lauren Halperin Photography by Be Imagined B www.BabyLifestyles.com With her niece in the dark about the baby shower Claude from Petite Fete was planning, this Cirque du Bebe party was more than a shower, but a complete surprise. "Her sister and I had a running list of themes, but the cirque idea was the one we kept going back to." With great vintage and French elements, Claude knew this was a party that when baby Julia was older she could look back and relate to. Together with a group of friends at a brainstorming session, Claude figured out how she would be putting her own unique spin on this creative concept. Secretly finding out that Julia's baby nursery would be decorated in shades of pink with pops of black, Claude mirrored these color combinations for the Cirque party. As invitations are her specialty, after selecting the theme Claude prepared the design for the invitations. "They set the tone for the event but they also gets the guests excited about coming to the event. I knew once I had that as the inspiration the rest of the event design would follow. I knew that I wanted the invitation to be a fun, unique and an original piece. I wanted each piece to have a pop of excitement." To give the invitation suite a modern edge, Claude designed the invitation in plexi-acrylic with shimsical typography. While generally used for weddings, she thought that plexi helped reflect that this was going to be a true baby celebration. "Mom loves "bling" so it's a subtle way of adding a bit of shine without using rhinestones or crystals." It's also a great keepsake of the day. The RSVP was designed in ticket style �a nod to the circus theme � and on the reverse side hot pink paper accents were mounted with fun hot pink glittery dots. The envelopes were hot pink and each guest name was hand lettered in an eye popping white opaque ink. A series of activities kept all the guests busy after the surprise. As each guest arrived, a picture was taken for the Polaroid guest book. Games of speed baby bottle drinking and men dressing and undressing a baby doll while blindfolded provided great laughs. "My favorite part of the shower was the photo booth area. I designed and hand painted the backdrop and guests were able to use it the whole time during the shower � they had fun just smiling to the camera. That was the most fun!" 89 B www.BabyLifestyles.com "One of the things I think that makes an event really special is personalization. I wanted to celebrate the baby's name and I tried to use it everywhere I could, the Invitations, the dessert table, and the favors. After I prepared the design, I then printed it on a linen canvas. I got this fabulous black frame from Ikea for the Caf� Julia sign and it worked perfectly." A pink, black and gold tassel banner graced the entrance for guests to enter this French inspired day. With touches of vintage flair, the tables were decorated with soft pink roses. Pink angled umbrellas shot out from wood centerpieces graced by glittering pink butterflies and cascading flowers. The Caf� Julia dessert table had pink feather plumes where raspberry tarts, lemon bars, cr�me brulee and other desserts waited temptingly. Three cakes were decorated in a whimsical "homemade" style in red velvet, chocolate with chocolate ganache and lemon cake flavors. The 40 guests took home Caf� Julia dessert boxes as party favors. Each guest filled them with goodies from the dessert table. "Make baby showers an event that the child would actually enjoy having or attending," advises Claude. "Have entertainment that your guests will enjoy, keep it simple � a little goes a long way. Cirque du Surprise Bebe Shower Vendors Event Styling, Invitations and Paper - Petite-Fete Event Location - iCi Restaurant Event Styling � Petite-Fete Cakes & Tarts � Nine Cakes Photography - beIMAGED Photography Garland � Confetti Systems Florals � Opalia Flowers Clown Costume � Dia Mia 90 B www.BabyLifestyles.com B www.BabyLifestyles.com 91 Party Queen If you are planning a party and need inspiration, the lady to see is Entertaining Extraordinaire Jenn Sbranti. As founder The Hostess With The Mostess, Sbranti is a veritable party magician, conjuring up unique themes and decor ideas and keeping her audience guessing what she'll think of next. On the Hostess Blog, visitors discover incredible party ideas ideas, and by implementing them at your next gathering, your guests are bound to never forget the experience. By taking some of Sbranti's advice, your parties can be taken to the next level and forever be remembered. B www.BabyLifestyles.com It was while attending the University of San Diego for a graphic design degree that Sbranti recognized her passion for planning parties. "I've always had a "thing" for parties � party decor in particular � which came in quite handy to my college roommates," Sbranti recalled. "My mom had this same entertaining "thing", so you could probably say that it runs in the family. Even as a young child I remember my parents hosting big parties with festive atmospheres where everyone seemed to be having such a great time." After graduating in 1999, Jennifer pursued a career in graphic design - first working in product development & design for a publishing company, then in print & web design for an advertising agency. After college she found herself in the next era of life where friends start getting engaged and having children � and all of the wedding festivities and baby showers kicked into high gear. Ever the amazing friend, Sbranti happily jumped at the chance to play hostess at bridal showers, bachelorette parties and baby showers. It was then that she felt the need for a resource like HWTM.com but wasn't able to find it. After turning to the world wide web for party inspiration, she was quickly frustrated by the lack of imagery and creative content her search results were returning. Back in 2003, searches for "bridal shower ideas" or "modern place settings" took her to tacky-looking ecommerce sites or web pages that lacked any artistic design � not exactly what you would call inspiring. In order to match her own level of ingenuity and her taste for modern flair, she began coming up with her own party themes, ideas that weren't necessarily `bridal' or `baby' but rather fun anytime party themes with unexpected twists to tailor them to the specific occasion. "These parties were for adult guests... did they really need to eat from paper plates adorned with teddy bears or take home a heartshaped votive candle?" Instead of using pastel store-bought paper plates covered in pink hearts for a wedding shower, Sbranti might play on the "hooked" idea and use fishhooks and kissing fish. Rather than traditional building blocks for a baby shower, she'd be more likely to play on the idea of "something blue" with shades of blue, bling and Tiffany & Co boxes filled with crystal pacifiers. Sbranti knew she struck gold from the beginning, when guests would ask where she got her products, how to make the centerpieces and what the recipes for the appetizers were. After speaking to others about the idea, she genuinely felt the need for an online resource where people could go to get inspired about party planning and not only find actual ideas that are unique and stylish � but also be directed on where to find the things they need. "Planning parties and get-togethers should be a creative and fun experience for the host or hostess, and not overly stressful as it seems too often become." Being a graphic/web designer and a big believer in what an amazing, accessible information source the web could be, she put her degree and her Internet-savvy husband, Sonny, to good use and set up a blog so she could have all her party answers and knowledge online where she could direct people to for quick reference. The name for the Web site came with the intention of providing party planners with an opportunity to feel like they could host a great party. Sbranti thought "Hostess with the Mostess" sounded like a fun, memorable name for a company, and was stunned to discover the URL was available. Taking it as a sign of fate, she reserved the domain and trademarked the name on the spot. The official Hostess With the Mostess website launched in May 2007, along with a daily blog � The Hostess with the Mostess Guide to Fabulous Finds for Contemporary Entertaining, offering daily tips on entertaining tips combined with Sbranti's hip, unique style and no-fuss approach to party planning. 93 B www.BabyLifestyles.com 94 B www.BabyLifestyles.com Like the Internet itself, the main website HWTM.com is constantly evolving. The main site can be described as a combination social networking party planning site, allowing others from around the world to share their own celebrations and for Sbranti to contribute her own creative entertaining visions. Visitors can can browse through galleries of parties, events, and & DIY Projects that have been uploaded by both party lovers and professional event planners. It covers a variety of celebrations � from baby showers and kids birthdays to holiday parties, bridal showers, recipes, DIY Projects and so much more. The public immediately fell in love with HWTM.com and Hostessblog.com. Her visitors grew quickly with emails flooding in asking questions about how Sbranti accomplished her original festivities to others wanting to share their own party pictures. Four years later and Jenn Sbranti and her Hostess brand are leaders of the party planning industry, becoming the go-to stop online for party planning advice. "that's definitely something we hope is true," Sbranti said of her and her website's reputation. "That's actually always been our goal, so it's very flattering to sense that some do feel that way about the site. It's definitely what we strive for everyday. I'd say I'm an expert in certain areas of party plan- ning, but definitely not everything. There's still so much more to learn." Her way of illustrating party submissions shows off her graphic design background, putting it to good use in creating pretty image layouts by collaging photos and adding text and embellishment graphics illustrating every aspect of party planning from gorgeous floral designs and recipes to table settings and dessert buffets, one of the main reasons she was able to make her blog stand out. "To me, event design is very similar to graphic design -- they're both about putting things together that mesh well visually. Whether you're designing a website or styling an event, it's all about color, composition, a smart, functional layout, and � plain and simple � creating eye candy!� whether it's a website or a baby shower. There's definitely a huge sense of freedom that comes with being very comfortable and familiar with the tools you need to create pretty online layouts - specifically Photoshop and Illustrator. I think I spend as much time with Photoshop as I do with my husband! (Kidding... but barely!)" But more than the general public, Sbranti captured the attention of others in the industry. Tori Tait first started her blog Thoughtfully Simple back in 2008 when there were very few party and entertaining blogs. B www.BabyLifestyles.com 95 "HWTM was one of the first I discovered and loved the what it could be rather than what it is. That's something great graphics and eye candy," she remembered. "Jenn's that's really helped me in my growth. She makes me see graphic design background is so prevalent on HWTM, things in more interesting ways." Beyond HWTM, Sbranti is far more than a blogit really is what makes it stand out. It's gorgeous and helpful. It's both very visually designed and very func- ger, she's also styles and plans parties for others. Actional. The fact that it's easy to navigate and includes so cording to her, styling references the creative and fun many vendor resources makes it a great party planning side of the party - table settings, flower arrangements, printable, etc. Planning a party is more of the logistical resource." Likewise, Jessica Wilcox of Modern Moments side including budgets, guest list, venue, rentals, etc. By continuing as a stylist for parties, Sbranti Designs stumbled upon HWTM two years ago. "I was in "awe" about all the parties and loved looking at every continues to apply her imagination to designing unique detail," Wilcox recalled. "I would describe HWTM as a aspects to celebrations. "I love that baby showers give place to go to be inspired. It's the perfect place for party you a chance to celebrate mom AND baby, so they still planners and party enthusiasts alike. The nice thing feel like "grown up" parties - but with the addition of about HWTM is that it's for everyone. Anyone can go to some sweet or playful elements that reference the little HWTM and walk away with a ton of easy-to-do ideas. one. First and second birthdays are fun because they're Plus, a lot of the ideas are also cost effective. If you're exciting and new, and mom still has the freedom to do ever lacking in creativity, go to HWTM and you will whatever kind of party/theme she wants. The sky is the limit when it comes to the look and feel of the party." come away with a million ideas." Her baby shower styling advice is to pick a Christina Nease of Celebrations at Home admires how Sbranti's creative eye can be turned on any- theme that's centered around mom's personal tastes and thing. "She's always able to create something so modern style preferences or baby-to-be's nursery design. "Either out of absolutely idea," Nease said. "She thinks about way, the theme should be personalized for her. Then, use things in unique ways. Just seeing how she thinks out- creative ways to bring the baby element into what could side the box, you look at something and you see it for otherwise be a stylish "grown up" party. For example, 96 B www.BabyLifestyles.com incorporate cool modern toys into the dessert table setup, use rhinestone-embellished pacifiers as napkin rings, or create little bird nests with a mom and baby bird to display on grapewood or manzanita branches." As Sbranti handles a little bit of everything in the party world, she's sees each as their own individual gathering with exciting details. "I honestly don't see a huge distinction between Baby showers and bridal showers. They are both parties for grown ups, but baby showers have the addition of some sweet/playful touches that reference the baby...and maybe less of an emphasis on the signature cocktails!" While the humble Sbranti doesn't brag, she counts many celebrities as her clients, including Judy Reyes of Scrubs, a Candy Land birthday party for Bachelorette Trista Sutter's son and an amazing Cirque du Bebe shower for actress Tisha Campbell-Martin. For NBC's The Biggest Loser host and Days of our Lives actress Alison Sweeney, Sbranti turned her baby shower for her second child into a celeb-studded event to benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, where in lieu of gifts, guests brought donations for St. Jude's infant and preschool patients. Some of Sbranti's favorite parties over the years are the ones she's made great use of color with, including the Cirque Du Bebe baby shower and her own daughter's colorful first birthday parade. "I really loved how both the Cirque Du Bebe and Festival Du Bebe baby showers that I designed came together. They were very similar in style and the types of elements used, which is probably why I'm referencing both of them, but one leaned more "French Circus" and the other leaned more "Masquerade". I also had a blast at the "Gothic Glam" Hip Hostess event I did in Dallas a couple years ago for fans of the blog. The crowd was so much fun! I think there's something about Halloween that instantly takes a party atmosphere to the next level though." "Everytime Jenn comes out with one its something we've never seen before," said Courtney Dial of Pizzazzerie.com. "They are always unique, always exciting, and always very colorful. I think her graphic design background really comes into play there, so she's able to start from scratch with the paper details of the party. The parties are unique color schemes, unusual themes you've never seen before and they're always huge crowd pleasers that are replicated all over the internet. People are always trying to throw parties with her printables." While HWTM.com was built to inspire others to create more visually interesting parties, Sbranti never dreamed she would inspire people in their everyday lives to follow their passion. "I don't think she realizes how many women have turned their creative passion into their full-time job after seeing what she did," said Dial. "She definitely was my support and looking to see what she did gave me the courage to launch my own site. She has been the driving force for so many women to leave their jobs and start doing what they are really passionate about. She's really been there to support so many women. I would say she's kind of my big sister in this world and industry. I can always ask her anything and she's always willing to be open and happy to help wherever she can. I think that she knows how much she influences us all, but at the same time doesn't actually know the extent of it. She's so humble, she just keeps being as creative as possible and we're all just kind of in awe of her creativity." In response, Sbranti said, "It actually makes me tear up to hear that . That's pretty amazing, cool, wonderful to hear." With her great power comes Sbranti's role, being able to give back. Involved with Zanisa for Doctors without Borders, breast cancer and various pink charities, many of Sbranti's favorites include ones close to the entertaining world, including Cookies for a Cause, Let's Eat Cake, and Operation Shower. While charities can receive a massive amount of attention from a simple post from this fan-favorite--she has 37,000+ faithful Facebook followers--to get the donations and support flowing in. When it comes to giving back, even with her packed schedule, family duties, and an empire to run, Sbranti makes the time. In April, 2011, in between cross country travel, family vacations, and gearing up for her new site launch, Sbranti got involved with an Operation Shower event for the women at Camp Lejeune. While she could have supplied the printables for the event via snail mail, Sbranti made sure she was there. "I know for a fact that she didn't have the time," Dial said of her friend and mentor. "Her schedule was packed, she was getting very little sleep every night, and even with everything going on, she was still able to find the time to be there. Knowing how busy she is and how powerful she is, she still finds the time to fly across the country with that schedule because it means that much to her to give back with her talent. To watch her is an inspiration because she finds the time and always with a smile on her face, giving what she can to make a special memory for all the moms to be." Indeed the day was special for more than 40 expectant women on the military base. "Jenn knocked it 97 B www.BabyLifestyles.com out of the park with her printables for the day," said Amy Belle Isle, Chief Event Organizer for Operation Shower and operator of Stem Parties. "You couple that with her amazing generosity and her sick talent. Because of her this party really popped. It's easy to get other industry people to an event when you say that she's going to be there." Even being one of the most influential people in the industry, it's her sunny disposition that people come away with when they know the woman behind the printables. "You sometimes worry when you meet someone that popular and well known, that they might be stand offish or have a definite air about them. Jenn is incredibly down to Earth, and so giving as far as sharing her knowledge," said Nease. "The fact that she was so willing to share her knowledge was very refreshing and a nice surprise." From her first conversation via email, Tait of Thoughtfully Simple knew Sbranti was the type of person she would enjoy connecting with. "She's so smart, thoughtfully and very friendly. Jenn knows her stuff and has so much experience to share, yet she is so very grounded and approachable. She's also really funny!" As a result of Sbranti's combination of incredible imagination and friendly persona, opportunities came pouring in. Her work has been featured in People, InStyle Weddings, and Life & Style, and Sbranti has contributed to Parents.com, BHG.com, Glam.com and Real Simple's Celebrations Blog. She's also appeared on Martha Stewart's show and has asked to be a part of Stewart's network of blogs. "It's been very flattering to have the opportunity to contribute to such well-respected publications and websites. I'm grateful for the experiences and have screenshots and clips of everything saved." If you are into scrapbooking your party memories, Sbranti has designed a series of 81 modern digital scrapbooking templates that are available for purchase on MyPublisher.com. You can choose your favorite template designs and drop your photos in, add text, titles, etc. They print the pages for you on beautiful, thick cardstock and ship them straight to your door. No cutting or gluing required. " Several of the completed pages have been uploaded to Facebook, and it's really cool to see the templates that I designed filled in with favorite memories of others, and to know that HWTM is playing 98 B www.BabyLifestyles.com some small part in helping them highlight and cherish those memories." Her collections of customizable party goods are available at Polkadotdesign.com and offers free printable downloads often on her site. "The pieces at Polka Dot can actually be personalized with the customer's own party details, names, phrases, etc. - and they print them for you, and also ship directly to your door. It makes things very easy! I'd really like to do some fullscale party collections - a more soup-to-nuts approach from the plates to the favor boxes. Non-paper entertaining products are another big goal. I've already sketched prototypes and priced out materials for several different products, but 2011 is focused on our online efforts, so hopefully this is something we'll be able to explore more in the next few years." Sbranti's current and future plans for the site will continue to strive forward." I still feel like there's so much we can do to make it better and even more useful to others." The first start for that was announcing the latest platform for HWTM Social. A dream that she and Sonny had for years, Sbranti has created a party paradise. By signing up for a free membership, readers are able to comment on and `like' the photos and albums of others and can login to their own personal member dashboard area, where they can upload and share their own photos, save their favorite ideas, keep them organize. They can follow the activity of their favorite member and connect directly with other readers to inspire others and be inspired. The new `Party Pro' section will help visitors find the people and products you need to help bring your celebration to life. We really want to expand on the website and add many more online functionalities and to truly take it to the all-encompassing planning tool that we know it can be. We also want to create products and expand the reach of the brand both on and offline. I hope to have an office buzzing with lots of creative employees one day � that's the vision constantly in my head lately. We hired our very first full time person earlier this year, so at least we're headed in the right direction!" 99 B www.BabyLifestyles.com A baby is born with a need to be loved -- and never outgrows it.