Drink Of The Week - Raspberry Lemonade

Check out this simple and fun recipe from My Baking Addiction; what a great end-of-summer drink! It's the paper straw and raspberry skewer garnish that I really love!

1 cup sugar
1 cup of water
¾ cup raspberries plus more whole berries for garnish if desired
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4-6 cups cold water (will vary depending on your taste)

1. Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and heat until the sugar in completely dissolved; swirl the pan occasionally. Let cool.

2. Measure 3/4 of fresh raspberries and puree them in your blender or food processor.

3. Push the raspberry puree through a fine mesh sieve to separate the seeds from the pulp.

4. Once the simple syrup has cooled, combine the raspberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice in a large pitcher.

5. Add 4-6 cups of cold water. The amount of water you use will depend on your taste, so add as little or as much as you want to achieve your perfect sweet/tart balance.

Fiesta Friday/Real Party - 40th Birthday 70's Disco Bash

Before I launch into today's Fiesta Friday, I just had to make sure you all saw my Back To School Bash on Lilsugar, I mean, seriously, how did they a) find me b) include me with the parties I have seriously drooled over and admired!? Take another moment...take it all in...ok, I'm done squeaking!

And speaking of Back To School, check out my Seattle Mama's post on fun treats for your own party or first day of school specialness, like this cute bookworm!

70's Disco invite

OK, back on track.  Your 40th should always be a blowout...mine is in 3 years and coupled with my 15th wedding anniversary (!!!) I'm planning on having a serious weekend bender! So when my client wanted to do something for her husband's birthday, plus keep it a surprise, I knew what must be done...a 70's Disco Bash!    When I showed up, he was a little thrown off, since my arrival always means a party. She even had his outfit planned...

I remember these invites from Bird's Party Shoppe as part of her Glitter & Snow collection, and had to have them, the disco balls were perfect!
70s Disco Party table

I sure wish I could have captured all the lights going, the disco ball was spinning, it was awesome!

70s Disco Party table blacklight bulb

As soon as I saw the light bulb containers at another blog, I kept my fingers crossed to find them and there they were at Hobby Lobby.  I snatched them up and turned them into blacklight bulbs by filling them with black jelly beans.

70s Disco Party table Scooby Snacks

We Go Wednesday - Dylan's Candy Bar 2

Houston has a Dylan's Candy Bar. We finally got to go.  We just bought her book on crazy clearance at Borders.  We poured over every photo and gleefully discussed what we would get our hands on.  We were Charlie the day before the Chocolate Factory tour.  I was going to take pictures, we were going to load up on candy...

First off, you can only take pictures inside the store with the giant bunny.  So I can't show you the amazing wall of Pez, bins full of every color of candy imaginable, the party table made of gumballs, or ridiculous candy concoctions like a giant box of gummi boogers and a giant gummi bear. Large gummi letters, nostalgic items like Garbage Pail Kids, marshmallow Star Wars figures, personalized vessels...I'm a bit bitter, because it is a serious tourist trap, so you would think you could take oodles of pictures. Yeah, no.

Secondly, everything is super duper holy-smokes-are-you-kidding me overpriced. Yes. I said it. I had to steer the boys into purchases we couldn't get just anywhere; and since it is as hot as Hades outside, we ate everything there.  So no pictures of what we got either. There was a neat powdered candy dispenser where you can mix and match all types of flavors.  The little one got one of those. The boy got a S'more candy bar.  I believe those were gone before I paid for them.

I know, that's what you do on vacation but when you can't turn off the little voice in your head that keeps saying 'You can find that way cheaper somewhere else', it's kinda hard to buy up the store.  For example, the Wii Pez dispensers I found at the Dollar Tree were $4.99.

But it was tons of fun! They have an ice cream fountain and even carry cupcakes...they said they get them locally but declined to say from who, nor was there a sign.  Out here, when grocery stores carry a local shop's cupcakes, they proudly advertise it. Am I bitter again? Sorry.  The kids couldn't get enough and ran around in love with it all!  Sure would have been nice to have a picture of how excited they were.

In fact, the young lady said I could take pictures outside the store which I did, causing the manager to fly out of the store insisting that I'm not allowed to take photos of the store since it is a private establishment.  Um, ok, store in the middle of a huge mall.  Plus, she informed me the Galleria Mall doesn't allow photos either. Um...ok.

Even better,  a mall cop rolled up on his little scooter.  I had already put away my camera so I don't know if he realized who he was looking for.  He parked it in front the store, looked in the windows and marched inside. Seriously.  I kid you not.  I would have taken a picture of him if I could.

So here we are in our only 'legal' photo (because people are in it)...and check out Lili of Swanky Chic Fete. We are blogging buds and meeting for the first time! She is so sweet, and I'm always in awe of her amazing parties, my favorite is her red and yellow bowling party. Christi of P Is For Party was also supposed to be there, but life is a fan of throwing curveballs.  I also learned about a few other party Houstonians, so next time, we'll do a bigger meetup.

I understand being protective of your brand and I apologize again for my bitterness...but damn it, I wanted pictures! It continued with a few of the cupcake shops I visited...but that's another post for another day.

Tuesday Tip - Coton Colors Review + Giveaway

Coton Colors product collage
You know how I'm all about Mommy Power so I'm excited to share a fabulous new party find, Coton Colors!  They contacted me with the opportunity to review one of their products. Who are they you ask? They are a must-have collection of handcrafted pottery, decor and gifts to live life in style.  Founded in 1995 by Laura Johnson who discovered her passion for pottery painting visiting a local art studio.  She picked up a few raw clay plates and went home to make name plaques for her three young children.

As Laura's life progressed through the years, the Coton Colors line evolved; cake plates for birthday parties, frames marking special moments, Santa cookie plates, even customized holiday ornaments.

In 2003, she created a large platter with interchangeable attachments for seasons and celebrations and thus the Happy Everything collection was born. It expanded to include cookie jars, message boards and wooden wreaths with this unique feature.
Coton Colors Happy Everything mini
I was sent for review, the Happy Everything Mini, a 9 ¼" square replica of the Happy Everything 16" round platter, designed to sit on a desk or shelf.  It comes with the party hat attachment, but they also sent me the mini pumpkin, wine (perfect for my winos!) and tree attachments.

Coton Colors Happy Everything mini 2
I love the versatility, I mean, with 31 different attachments and the nifty Velcro backing, literally change the plate to celebrate every occasion. I love platters and stands that are specifically for holidays and events, but then you have to have a bunch of platters that you can only use once a year. This way, you just have one platter with lots of options.

Coton Colors ornament
And do you know what else I'm seriously in love with, their ornaments! They've got one for pretty much every occasion. They hooked me up with the Born To Blog, part of the Professions And Obsessions collection. Don't you think they'd make the perfect gift? And if you think that's impressive, wait until you see the collegiate line.It may be just southern schools, but I bet they'll be expanding soon enough.

Check out their blog for more great ideas for celebrating and gift-giving in style and join them on Facebook to hear about the latest happenings and giveaways. If you live in Tampa or Tallahassee, FL, there is a retail store in each city, or here's a list of shops carrying their products.

My platter has a new home on my counter, but I can't wait to break it out at my next party! And since I want you to have the same fabness,

Coton Colors is offering one of my readers the chance to win 
a Happy Everything Mini platter with party hat attachment, 
a $50 value! 

1.  Visit Coton Colors and leave a comment here on your favorite product.

2.  Tweet this about this giveaway Enter to win a fab @CotonColors Happy Everything Mini platter from @NotJustAMommy #giveaway

3.  Blog about this giveaway, make sure that you link directly to this post, then leave the link in your comment.

Giveaway is only open to U.S. residents and ends next Tuesday, August 30 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Winner will be chosen by, and contacted by email. Winner will have 24 hours to respond otherwise an alternate will be chosen.

My Back To School Printables Post On Seattle Mamas


I'm back.

Did you miss me?

I've been in Houston visiting my family, having my sister's cupcake shop grand opening, doing a million things, you know, like when you are on vacation.  I visited so many fun places, lots of cupcake spots, met one of my blog idols, and of course, taking pictures to share with you all.  I'm also working on our Back To School Bash for next week (this year's theme, Happy School Year!), and STILL have to share the Disco Bash I did last month. Oh, and a fabulous giveaway starts tomorrow, gotta work on my Lucky Leaf product lots of stuff coming down the pike (or pipe, since I'm not sure which one it is)!

So I'm jumping on the moving party train, we'll start with my post over on Seattle Mamas, sharing links to great Back To School printables.

We Go Wednesday - Grand Opening Of Kaleidoscope Cupcakes

My sister has been in the cupcake business for awhile...we curse everyday that she's in Houston and I'm in Seattle...oh the party trouble we could get into. Anyways she is opening a storefront this weekend and I get the privilege of helping her celebrate this newest venture.

If you live in the Houston area of  Katy,  Cypress, West Houston, or Downtown, check her out, Kaleidoscope Cupcakes. She's been working on getting the place all spiffy and I can't wait to see it for the first time! She's going to have all kinds of monthly events going on like Cupcakes & Wine Nights, Mommy & Me morning playdates, painting classes and more.

Order your fab treats and have them delivered or pick up in-store.  Host private events like business meetings and birthday parties; take advantage of her other vendors, who specialize in everything party from cake pops to cheesecake!

RSVP now for Sunday's grand opening...I'm working on a cute craft idea for the kids so you know you want to be there. Plus, her grand opening assortment pack flavors will be white chocolate raspberry, peanut butter cup & dulce de leche...mmm...white chocolate raspberry...

Of course I'll take lots of pictures and share with you all!

Tuesday Trend - Mobiles

Before I launch into today's musings, I just wanted to point out that if your kids start school after Labor Day like mine, it's only a few weeks away! Check out my latest post on Today's Mama for starting a new tradition, a Back To School Bash!  You have some time...

Today's trend is inspired by the latest Crazy It Forward from Logan And Kalia's Blog. How cute are my felt owls as a mobile? Since her new baby is a girl (and how cute is she!!!), big brother's sports mobile was not happening, so a few crafty moments later, voila! I guess this is what the hip kids call 'upcycling'.

So in this spirit, what would be more fun than sharing these great mobiles I've come across?

Hot air balloon mobile tutorial from Brown Accents.

This embroidery hoop mobile from Martha Stewart can be easily adapted to the nursery's colors.

Paper rosettes are so hot now; how pretty are these from Apartment Therapy.

Love the whole collection from The Butter Flying.

I love how you can add photos to this mobile from Recipe For Cute.

Grownup mobiles from Frazier & Wing.

Drink Of The Week - Live Basil Gimlet

The trick to this summer cocktail, live basil straight from the garden! Recipe courtesy of NY Times and serves 1.

5 large basil leaves
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup

1. Put 4 basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and press them gently with a muddler or a wooden spoon.

2. Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup.

3. Fill with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe or other small glass. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf.

Fiesta Friday/Real Party - LEGO Party

LEGO party invite

Wow, time flies! I just realized that I haven't shared the little one's party from June.  My boys' birthdays are a week apart, so after the boy's Mario Party, we had the little one's LEGO party at a local Y. They were supposed to get an hour of swim and an hour of play in the large tumble/playzone. Perfect for me to set up and have time to take photos and enjoy ourselves.

So I have to say that I'm learning to roll with the party punches, but this party took everything in me not to raise my fists to the heavens and shout "Why??" I won't bore you with the details (from ill-prepared staff to losing almost an hour of party time), but what really hurt my feelings was not being able to use my backdrop that I made cutting tons of cardstock down and gluing to posterboard. I couldn't cover up their summer background. Oh yes, that nearly reduced me to tears.  So in your mind, replace the 'Celebrate Summer' background with this...

LEGO party dessert table

OK, I said that, now I feel better. We made proceed...

LEGO party dessert table

LEGO party dessert table 2

Tuesday Tip/Real Party - Summer Entertaining/Lemonade Stand

Today's tip is full of summer entertaining ideas, after all, there is still a month left of summer for some of us.  We took advantage of the little bit of sun we've been blessed to have a Lemonade Stand/Bake Sale. I mixed-and-matched printables from World Label and  Marry You Me.

Dipping into our profit...

I love this tray from Pier 1; been waiting to get it forever!

Stamping napkins is such a great little detail.

And speaking of lemons...check out Punchbowl's latest Dinner Party Theme, lemons and limes. They are sharing great tips for adding a pop of color to your dinner party. I love this lemon centerpiece and it's so easy to make; check out the post for details.
After everyone is done with dinner, burn it all off with yard games like bocce ball. I know, it's probably been forever since you've played, but the classics never go out of style. Check out Bocce-in-a-Bag, the world’s only all-inclusive bocce kit, with everything from the court, to the balls, and everything in between. 
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