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Travel theme first birthday party ideas

Travel Themed First Birthday Party: A Festive Unisex Bash for the Twins!

I don’t even know how to approach a post about my twins turning one: No words can begin to adequately sum up the intense and wondrous and wild year after our family of two became four. All parents know this feeling, of course.

So how about if I focus instead on the babes’ travel themed first birthday party? That seems like a reasonable scope and scale. And I’m kiiiiiinda obsessed with the way it turned out.

For this party, David had one request: He wanted to host it in the backyard of our home, our first house, where we brought our babies after we left the hospital, a place to which he, in particular, has a deeply visceral connection (which is very sweet to see).

As for me, I had a few more ideas. After we got the babes their first passports and I saw how bonkers cute/hilarious the photos looked, I had this idea to make a sign that said “Oh, the places you’ll go!” and post those photos somewhere on it. From there, I loved the idea of a travel themed first birthday party. And then I thought of a “Here comes the airplane!” sign for the food table. Of course we’d have a taco cart, the crowd-pleasingest, budget-friendliest, easiest way to feed a group.

Along those lines, I was inspired by a couple of recent trips to Mexico (Punta Mita/Sayulita and Tulum), plus the availability of such great Mexican-style decor in Los Angeles. I was also pretty obsessed with this photo on Pinterest. But I knew I didn’t want the party to be too theme-y in any way. And that was about where my opinions and expertise on the matter ended.

Fortunately, I have friends in very convenient places — namely, in the event industry. My super-talented pal Sarah Granger-Twomey of PIE Productions got on board with helping me plan (never mind she’s in the throes of planning her own daughters’ celestial-themed joint birthday party in a few weeks), and helped me bring it to vibrant life.

Aaaaand her in-demand photographer husband, Sean Twomey of 2Me Studios (who also shot our maternity photos!) offered to shoot our day (while he also managed his two kids). Double score!

So after a super fun afternoon shopping for decor with Sarah in downtown Los Angeles, we were all set to go for an 11 a.m. backyard party. And then just as Sarah and our friend Rachel (who is among the most naturally festive people I know) were arriving to help set up, we heard thunder, and rain started falling. Out of absolutely nowhere. Um, what? People: It’s mid-July in Los Angeles, during a drought of biblical proportions. This cannot and does not happen. The Day After Tomorrow. Alanis Morissette. Etc.

And I would have panicked without my two seasoned event-industry friends, along with my event-industry husband, who rolled up their sleeves, pounded the coffee, and got to work.

Another thing that seems relevant here, before I go on with all the photos: As Sarah, Rachel, David and I stood in the living room formulating a rain plan, our friend (first) and neighbor (second), Dwayne, ran up the front walk in his jogging clothes talking about, “Hey, I have an E-Z Up tent. I’m bringing it by.”

This to me was a moment among so very many — nearly infinitely many in our love-filled first year — that have crystallized the idea of “It takes a village.” And we’d be absolutely lost without ours. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the helpers and everyday heroes in our lives. 

(By the way? The rain held off during our party’s exact mid-day window.)

Now onto the photos… Read more…

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Riviera Palm Springs pool

24 Hours in Palm Springs: A Perfectly Rounded Vacation in Just a Day

These days — with the demands of infant twins plus career plus being a grownup — at any given moment, I’d say I deserve a vacation more than ever before.

One (of the infinity) great things about living in Los Angeles is we have easy access to the desert, and 24 hours in Palm Springs can make a person feel totally refreshed, rejuvenated, and… tan.

So last weekend, hubs and I headed out for an overnighter at the Riviera Palm Springs that we sorely needed and enjoyed. We were going to take the babes, but decided it was better to leave them instead in the care of their grandparents when the weather forecast said (wait for it) 115. Fortunately, I can’t get enough of the heat myself.

Here’s what our mini-break looked like. Read more…

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Hiking Runyon Canyon with stroller

Hiking Runyon Canyon With a Stroller: Yes You Can!

Ever since I was pregnant with my twins, I have been dreaming of stroller hiking with the babes. Yesterday, nine months since they were born, we did it at last!

One of my favorite fast weekday-friendly hikes in Los Angeles is Runyon Canyon. (It’s also the go-to hike for half of the rest of everyone who lives here, but whatevs.) I figured that hiking Runyon Canyon with a stroller was essentially possible, though every time I went alone, I assessed: Would this part of the terrain support a stroller? Can you get from here to there pushing wheels? Just how much harder is this hike when you’re hiking for three?

Yesterday, I finally got up the chutzpah to try it. Read more…

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Pan Am Experience review

Pan Am Experience: The Coolest 1970s Aviation-Theme Dinner Party You Will Ever Attend

Last year on Valentine’s Day, we were taking in the Paris views from high up in the Eiffel Tower, with two babes baking in my belly. It was pretty hard to top.

But this year, we spent the holiday having an entirely different kind of travel experience that was much less far flung, but also in some ways much more exotic. Aviation fans and general travelphiles: You’re going to want to check this one out.

Our date was to — wait for it — the Pan Am Experience, a 1970s aviation-theme dinner party set in a 747. Read more…

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Hollywood sign trail

At Long Last! The Hollywood Sign Trail Reopens

My very favorite hike in Los Angeles is the Hollywood Sign trail. It’s a little jewel box of an outing in so many ways: It’s got epic views (obvi) with appeal for locals and out-of-towners alike. It strikes the right balance between challenging and still chat-friendly in terms of difficulty. And it’s right in the middle of town, making it accessible for a quick-ish jaunt if time is limited (as it always is these days), solo or with friends.

It was also closed for nine months, while a dispute with neighbors over parking and congestion and other havoc tied things up. But as of this week, it is at long last open again. So I gave it a go yesterday, and it held up every bit to my memory.

Here’s what you need to know to hike the reopened Hollywood Sign trail. Read more…

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Bob Revolution SE Duallie stroller for twins

Best Double Stroller for Twins: Bob Revolution SE Duallie Review (AND YOU CAN WIN ONE HERE!)

Funny story. On the advice of another twin mom friend, I registered for the Bob Revolution SE Duallie double stroller, which she said was the absolute best pick for an active lifestyle with twins — great for jogging, hiking, beach walks (so basically, my life — or at least, the life I want to live).

We received the stroller as a very generous shower gift from my husband’s company, where his team even assembled it for us and tied it with a big bow, a la a Christmastime car commercial. Only problem was: It didn’t fit in our car. Matter of fact, we’d soon discover that nothing we’d need for twins fit in our compact hatchback — not any double stroller, and not even my husband when the two car seats were installed. So in my 36th week or so of pregnancy we copped to reality and bought an SUV.

So flash forward to now, when I have a car big enough and finally also babies big enough to test out the Bob. And oh my gosh, you guys, I am in love. Read more…

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nude and gold negative space nail art

2 New Mom Beauty Tips (Also Known As: Aint Nobody Got Time)

Here’s the deal. I have two infants. I have no time. This is literally true now, as compared to when I used to be like “OMG, I have no time” before I had kids and what I actually meant was “I’ll really have to write this story lighting fast if I want to make it to my favorite Equinox class at noon.”

Nevertheless, three months postpartum, you won’t catch me with chipped nails or too many visible grey hairs (ugh, I just put that on the Internet). Postpartum beauty is a key self-esteem tool for me at a time in life when so much is new and scary. I may not have the magic touch that can make my baby stop crying instantly every time, but I can have amazing nails with a little advance planning and a couple hours a month of family/hubby willing to run interference. That much I can control. And I’ll tell you what: In my world, conversation-starting nail art is key to faking it til I make it.

So I’ve modified a couple of my key beauty routines to suit my life as a new twin mom. Here are the two new mom beauty go-tos that work for me… Read more…

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Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

A Luxe Babymoon Staycation (Or Combatting the Summer Pregnancy Symptom Known as FOMO), wee

I often hear people talk about how awful it was for them, or must be for me, to be heavily pregnant in the summertime. And I generally disagree wholeheartedly—it’s been mostly fine! But there is one majorly uncomfortable issue with being pregnant in these hot months, and it’s not the heat. Here’s the real reason why summertime pregnancy is tough: FOMO.

Given I’m carrying twins—and big ones at that, about six pounds each (!!) at last measure—I outgrew maternity jeans weeks ago, and closed-toed shoes on my swollen dogs sound like torture. So, thanks especially to my wardrobe of flow-y caftans and maxi dresses from the likes of Rachel Pally and T Bags, being pregnant in the summer suits me just fine (notwithstanding that three-week period when our home AC decided to poop out, because: Murphy’s Law).

But there’s this: Summer is my jam. My husband has always said I have a solar battery, and I get totally charged when things heat up. I want to be everywhere, every weekend: somewhere far flung out of town, somewhere fab within driving range, or at the beach or hiking right here in L.A.

Now that I’m close to 36 weeks pregnant and using a motorized cart just to get around Target, aint none of that happening.

My best friends all planned a camping/July 4 party weekend in Northern California, and I gulped with—what was it? Envy? Longing? (Maybe acid reflux.) It would be the first time, pretty much ever, that I’d miss out on a trip like that. I even sort of half considered, “Well, maybe…” and then I’d remembered that these days I cannot actually turn over in bed without David’s help, or make it to the bathroom at night without using multiple pieces of furniture as crutches, or that I could go into labor any day. So even relentlessly, mercilessly festive me had to admit it was time to wave the white flag on that idea.

But! We had a plan. Read more…

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1930s kitchen remodel

1930s Kitchen Design: Before and After

File this one under B for better late than never — but since I’m on a remodeling-post roll, I’m inspired to share a couple of before-and-after photos from our 1930s kitchen remodel… which we completed two years ago.

I can’t overstate how much I loved this house when we first saw it. It felt so right. It was like that magical Say Yes to the Dress moment. Is this the one? Oh yes, gurrrl, this is the one. But I’ve said a hundred times before on this blog, the only thing not ideal about this house is its size, at about 1,350 square feet. (Fine for a couple, but not so much for growing into as a family.) The kitchen was among the rooms in particular that did not feel large, but part of the problem wasn’t actually the size itself, but rather the dearth of storage. There seemed to be just a few cabinets willy nilly, but nothing that maximized the space. Read more…

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Los Angeles Garage Office Conversion

Our Los Angeles Garage Office Conversion: Ideas and Photos!

What happens when you have a two-bedroom house and two babies on the way? Well, first thing is you can kiss your sweet home office goodbye in favor of a nursery. Second thing is, you can figure out what the heck to do instead if you are a writer-editor who works from home.

Our solution (after considering other options like buying a new house, for instance) was to go for a detached garage office conversion. At first, I was opposed to this idea (proposed by husband), because I’m not sure you really see ROI from a future sale of a home, unless you add square footage onto the main house. But I really started to warm up to the idea when I began realizing its utility as a major custom feature for a new mom who makes her living as I do; I can be close enough to be accessible, but still two closed doors away from babies and nanny and noise enough to have the reasonable expectation of actual work. That’s a setup that works for me.

Beyond that, we needed to maintain some storage space. Otherwise, what would happen to husband’s 23 crates of ’90s hip-hop records from his DJing days, or my endless hoard of sentimental artifacts (I know, I know, call A&E — but I just love life and people and memories)? So we divided the garage into partial raw storage, and partial office space. That sounds sort of simple, but required hoop jumping to accommodate the movement of the existing garage door, as well as un-motorizing it so the motor didn’t run through the ceiling of our space.

With those considerations all addressed, prospective garage-office converters among my dear readers will be pleased to know the project was a fairly simple one! Read more…

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