Leo’s 1st Birthday Par-Tee

After searching Pinterest for 1st birthday party ideas, I settled on a golf themed party for baby Leo. It was taking place in the middle of summer, in our back yard, and our family loves to play golf. So we planned a 1st birthday PAR-TEE, complete with his very first set of golf clubs!

 

2-tiered cake and smash cake: Countertop Cakes

Embroidered birthday shirt: Etsy

Menu:

Golf Clubs (Brats and Hotdogs)

Putt-ato Salad

Par Pasta Salad

Chip Shots (Chips)

Watermelon Slices

Range Balls (Popcorn Puffs)

Donut Hole-in-Ones (Donut holes)

Arnold Palmers

 

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2013 in Review

2013 was an AMAZING year! This week, I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers writing their year in review, and I really liked that idea. 2013 was full of weddings, and parties, changes and trips, and overall it was a wonderful year! So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite moments from 2013!

  • In February I started my new blog, Our Little Ivory Tower! I wrote 47 posts in 2013, and I’m excited to see how I can grow my blog in 2014. I absolutely love having a writing outlet and a way to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has also been a great way for me to document my life and it serves as a “live” scrapbook.
  • In March my sissy moved to Colorado, which was incredibly sad, but also so exciting for her! She got a promotion working for Victoria Secret, and shortly after moving she got ANOTHER promotion and was given her OWN STORE to manage. She is doing an awesome job and loving being out in Denver!

Mar  VS

  • Also in March, G & I did some fundraising for the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. So many of our family and friends helped by donating and we were able to raise $250 for the local organization to help send veterans to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.
  • In April my bestie Megan invited me to be her +1 for a work trip she earned to Austin, TX! All expenses paid, we spend a long weekend exploring Austin with an awesome group of people, as well as a couple days at an amazing resort. We were pampered, ate like queens, and had an awesome #palsweekend overall. The trip was definitely a top highlight of 2013!

TX

  • At the end of April, I helped to host my dear friend Tiffany’s bachelorette party in Des Moines, which was a blast with old and new friends.

bachelorette party

  • In May I celebrated another bachelorette, my roommate from college Katie, in Nashville! It was my first time to ‘Music City’ and I loved every minute of it. We danced to country music, bought cowboy boots, and drank till the sun came up. It was another amazing girlfriends trip!

Nashvegas

  • In June I got to stand up as a bridesmaid in Tiffany and Nick’s wedding. It was one of the most fun bridal parties I’ve ever been a part of and the wedding was beautiful and classy and SO much fun.

Malcom Wedding

  • In July G & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! He posted this on Facebook which absolutely melted my heart 🙂 He’s not a big “sharer” on Facebook, so that made it all the more special. It’s good to be me, too!

Facebook

Anniversary

  • Also in July, I was a bridesmaid in Katie and Sean’s wedding in the Quad Cities. It was a gorgeous wedding and incredibly special and truly a wedding I will never forget.

Laird Sisters

  • In August we attended my 10 year class reunion. I rode in our class float, watched old class videos from elementary and high school days, and enjoyed catching up with my classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years!

Class of 2003

  • In September we went out to Colorado with my parents to visit Marlee and Andrew. We went to a Reds/Rockies game, hiking in the mountains, exploring Denver and Boulder, and had a lot of family fun time.

Mountains Family

  • Also in September, we traveled to Missouri for our friends Stephanie and Horacio’s wedding. So many of our friends who G grew up with were there, and we had a great time dancing the night away and catching up with old friends.

Wedding fun

  • In October I got to go to Las Vegas for work to exhibit at the NBWA Tradeshow. Not only was it beautiful weather while we were there, I learned a lot and even had some time to explore the city.

Las Vegas

  • In November I participated in NaBloPoMo and blogged {almost} every day in the month of November. We also spent Thanksgiving in Fort Dodge with the Ivorys, and went to G’s cousin’s wedding.

Ivorys

  • In December my sister got engaged!!! Her fiance Andrew took her up into the mountains for a relaxing weekend, and ended it by putting a beautiful ring on her finger. We are looking forward to the wedding planning to come in 2014, and a wedding in 2015! I’m so excited for them and excited for Andrew to become a part of our family.

Future Newbergs

  • Also in December, I decorated for Christmas  and we went to Chicago to celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. We also got together in Cedar Falls with G’s family to open presents and enjoy a really fun lunch at a Japanese steakhouse.

Christmas Tree

As you can see, 2013 was a really exciting and eventful year. We’re expecting another fun and and crazy year in 2014, and I can’t wait to share it all with you again. My goal for 2013 is to take one picture everyday to document the year {thanks for the idea, Mix and Match Mama!}, and to take time to enjoy my family and friends, because life is too short to not be around those you love.

Tonight G & I are going to ring in the New Year together by going out for a fancy dinner at 350 First and possibly to a movie, then probably home to watch the ball drop on TV. I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow we will spend Jan 1 relaxing and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play LSU in the Outback Bowl! GOOOOO HAWKS!

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and look forward to seeing you all in 2014!

I’m SEW Excited! – NaBloPoMo Day 18

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I mentioned casually to my parents the other weekend how much I would love to get a sewing machine to try some sewing projects. My mom said she thought they still had my grandma’s old sewing machine in storage, and offered to let me have it. My dad took me to look at it, and I fell in love. It is old – a Singer Stylist Model 457 – which came out in 1969 {queue the music….It was the summer of ’69!}. But it even had thread still on the bobbin and a little square of fabric still on it that she must have practiced some patterns on. And I swear it still smelled a little like her even. It made me sooooo happy and miss her sooooo much!

I have had it for a couple of weeks now, and was planning on having one of my friends come over to help get me started since I had no idea how to thread it or anything {there is no manual, and it’s been a LONNNNG time since I took a home economics class!} My schedule has been crazy though, and we haven’t gotten together yet. So tonight I decided to try figuring it out myself. I watched some YouTube videos, looked at some online diagrams, even G helped me a little with some trial and error, and I am proud to say we are UP AND RUNNING folks! I just practiced tonight a little on squares of fabrics {just like Grandma!} and am slowly getting the hang of it. I am so excited to keep practicing and get better with time–and I can’t wait to feature some of my projects her on the blog. Watch out DIY section of Pinterest!

Oh, and having a little piece of my grandma in the house is a pretty amazing feeling, too. I swear I could almost feel her helping me when I was threading the needle, and could picture her exactly licking the thread to get it through when I was little. I miss her so much! Memories…..aren’t they amazing?

Any tips for my new sewing hobby??? Or blogs/sites I must check out for tips?

True Life: I Love TV & Spoilers – NaBloPoMo Day 13

I hate to admit it, but I love watching TV. Could I do other, more productive things with my time? Sure. Should I do more productive things with my time? Absolutely. But I don’t care. I love a good TV show with entertaining and relate-able characters.

My love for TV started when I was young with Pee-Wee Herman. I spent my Saturday mornings with Pee-Wee and friends like Chairry, Jambi, and Cowboy Curtis. I even had a Pee Wee Herman themed 3rd or 4th birthday. {Note: This was before we found out he was a sick pervert.}

After Pee-Wee, I started getting into anything Nickelodeon. Legends of the Hidden Temple, Clarissa Explains it All, Rugrats, Doug….I liked them all.

Nick

And of course, like most 90’s kids, I spent Friday nights with TGIF shows. Full House was always my favorite.

TGIF

In college and after, I lived for shows like NewlywedsFriends and Desperate Housewives. I’m pretty sure I cried when Brothers & Sisters got cancelled. And it turns out, Friday Night Lights was on during this time, but I never discovered it until a year ago on Netflix. And let me just say, BEST. SHOW. EVER. If you haven’t watched the full series on DVD or Netflix, I highly recommend you get started. Like now.

I’ve learned that watching TV shows on DVD or Netflix is my favorite way to do it. Because I absolutely hate having to wait from week to week to find out what is going to happen.  It drives me insane when an episode or season ends and leaves me hanging. Did she die? Did they find him? Is he going to get the girl? ARE ROSS AND RACHEL GOING TO END UP TOGETHER?

My lack of patience for suspense has led me to my obsession with spoilers. Every season when the new Bachelor or Bachelorette starts, I hop right online and look up the spoilers. I need to know how it’s going to end. Thank God for Reality Steve. When we watched Friday Night Lights, I was constantly reading episode synopsis reviews as we went through each season, especially when we had to shut it off because it was time for bed. I could not stand going to bed without knowing how the season was going to end. I’m pretty sure that by episode 5 I already knew how the entire series was going to go.

Right now, I have three shows that are my “must watch shows” for the week. Monday nights I watch How I Met Your Mother. It’s in the last season of the series, so of course I am sitting on pins and needles waiting for how it’s going to end. I’ve always liked this sitcom, even though this is the first year I’ve watched it consistently every week. On Wednesday nights I watch Nashville. I have loved Connie Britton since she played Tammy Taylor, and love her even more as country star Rayna James. If she and Deacon Clayborn don’t end up together, I might throw a remote through my TV. Thursday night I round out my TV week with Parenthood, and typically cry at least twice during the hour that it’s on.

But the thing I hate about watching those shows every week when they’re on TV is NOT BEING ABLE TO READ SPOILERS FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON. If I can’t watch the show, sure I DVR it, but before I get around to watching it I typically find a recap online or ask one of my friends to give me the details of what I missed. I. CAN’T. WAIT.

A co-worker lent me Season 1 and 2 of Homeland which G and I are currently working our way through watching. {Claire Danes is amazing, by the way. Totally deserved those Emmys!} But you better believe I already know what has happened on that show through it’s current episode, even though I’m only through Disc 1 on Season 2. I don’t have Showtime, so since I can’t watch it on Sundays, I just have to wait for the spoilers to come out the following day so I can get caught up with the recap.

And if you were wondering, don’t worry, I do the same thing with books, too. I start a new book, and once I’m about a third of the way through, I’ll read the last chapter. Need to know how it’s going to end. I also like to know how movies are going to end prior to watching them. I get it….I’m weird. G doesn’t understand why I’d want to know what’s going to happen before it happens. Lots of people call it “cheating.” But I can’t help it. I don’t like suspense.

Anyone else addicted to spoilers? Are there any shows I’m missing out on that I need to add to my “must watch list”?

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words – NaBloPoMo Day 3

I absolutely love looking at old photos. I could spend hours days looking at vintage pictures of my family, friends, and self from years past. Seeing pictures of my parents when they were my age, of my husband and his brother before I knew them, or of me and my friends at elementary birthday parties can put a smile on my face like few other things can.

I spent some time on Halloween night looking at old pictures of my sister and I in childhood Halloween costumes. A kitten, a clown, a doctor….all kinds of hilariousness. I love how the memories come flooding back when you see an old photo. For instance, I had totally forgotten about the “pumpkin flashlights” we used to get every year to carry while trick-or-treating, and how my dad always set up a card table in our dining room to hold the bowl of candy to be passed out and to display all the pumpkins we had carved.

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And then the next day my dad sent me this gem of a memory….

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Seriously! People don’t keep pictures like that any more! Think about it…..using digital cameras these days, that photo would have been deleted in a heart beat. My eyes are closed, my sister is looking a different direction, and my dad’s arm is in the way. No way would that have been saved, let alone printed out! But my dad loves this picture so much he has it hanging in a frame on his office wall. And that’s part of what makes old photos so charming. You never knew what you were going to get until you picked up your pictures.

Last night after all the extended family had left from G’s grandma’s 70th birthday fiesta, we pulled out a big box of old pictures and spent a couple hours looking, laughing and reminiscing. Pictures of his parents as kids and young adults, G & his brother as babies, through elementary, and high school, and pictures of vacations, weekend projects and family gatherings. I couldn’t get enough!

I still like to use a disposable camera from time to time. Sure, it doesn’t take half as good of a picture as my little iPhone, and if you forget to “charge” the flash you end up wasting a picture. And people literally look at you like you’re INSANE if you ask them to take your picture and hand them that little yellow camera. But someday I want my future kids to have the joy of sitting at a kitchen table, flipping through an old box of pictures–pictures that include closed eyes and dorky smiles. A couple months ago, when I took a disposable camera to Hy-Vee to get developed, the employee had to search high and low for the developing envelopes. The next day when I went to pick them up, she remembered me and said she hadn’t seen anyone use one of those in a VERY long time.

I wouldn’t be surprised if an elementary kid didn’t know what these were:

Rolls-of-Kodak-film1-950x633

14306-disposable_1_superThat makes me so sad!! I hardly ever take the time these days to print out my digital pictures. I keep SD cards in random drawers and download my pictures on my computer, but a couple weeks ago, I had the misfortune of a crashed hard drive. Lots of those pictures I’ll never get back, except the ones I had on Facebook or those various SD cards laying around. I don’t want my future children sitting around someday flipping through a Facebook album though. I want them to sort through real, live, physical pictures and laugh about our outfits and outdated furnishings. So, to make it easier I’ve downloaded the Walgreens app, and I’m making a point to print pictures from time to time, and stuff them in a box. I’ve thought about designing and ordering picture books from Snapfish or Shutterfly as an option, too. The idea of making a family “year book” is something I’ve seen on Pinterest and really like.

So tell me, how do you organize your photos? Do you still use a disposable camera or 35mm film for fun? And if you really want to make me smile, send me your favorite vintage photo! It doesn’t get much better than this:

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Summer Catch Up

Wow, I have sure been a terrible blogger this summer! I blame it on how busy we’ve been, but should have been updating the site more often to keep everyone in the loop of our crazy life. Here is a quick recap of our busy but exciting summer–full of weddings, bachelorette parties, vacations and fun.

In May I took my first trip to Nashville for my college roommate Katie’s bachelorette party. I absolutely fell in LOVE with the city of Nashville and can’t wait to go back some day to see more. We toured the Ryman Auditorium and spend our time on the strip listening to live bands, drinking cold beers, and buying cowboy boots.

Katie's Nashville Weekend

Nashville Boots

In June I was honored to be a bridesmaid in my beautiful friend Tiffany Rohret’s wedding in Des Moines to her now husband Nick Malcom. Wow–let me say, what a FUN wedding and awesome wedding party. I had such a great time and it couldn’t have been any more amazing of a day. Congrats Nick and Tiffy!

Photo Booth Pictures

Bus Cheers

In July I got to be a bridesmaid again in the Quad Cities as my college roommate and long time bestie Katie Laird married Sean Allen. Another beautiful wedding and perfect day. And it was so much fun seeing so many friends who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like.

Laird-Allen Wedding

Laird Sisters

We also celebrated our 2nd anniversary and went to Okoboji, Iowa with Greg’s family for a little get away. We took our annual anniversary picture on the dock. I love this tradition we’ve started!

2nd Anniversary Tradition

In August I had my 10 year class reunion and loved going back to Traer to see so many family and friends. We had a 10 year reunion float in the Winding Stairs Days parade and watched old VHS tapes from elementary and high school at a party at the Traer Country Club. It was a blast catching up with high school friends, and I even found myself doing a shot of Blueberry Moonshine with old friends who I hadn’t seen in forever. It was a blast!

North Tama Class of 2003 10 Year Reunion

For Labor Day weekend we took our big trip of the summer out to Denver to see my sister and her boyfriend in their new home! We traveled with my parents and had SUCH an amazing time. It was G’s first trip to Colorado and he loved the mountains and especially our first time white water rafting. We also went to a Reds/Rockies game, Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder, and of course found time to check out the adorable neighborhood my sister lives in (near City Park). We had an absolute blast and cannot wait to find time to go visit again.

Denver View

One Up Bar

Reds/Rockies Game

Mountain Man

Colorado View

Stream

And last in the highlights we traveled to St. Joseph Missouri in September to go to our friends Steph and Horacio’s wedding. Another beautiful wedding and fun weekend road trip.

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Bride and Groom

This weekend I went tailgating in Iowa City for my other college roommate, Kim Franz’ bachelorette party and got to watch the Hawkeyes smoke Western Michigan (thank goodness!) Another wonderful weekend in the books with good friends, and can’t wait for Kim and Brandon’s wedding in February.

Kim's Bachelorette Party

There were plenty of other weekend funs throughout the summer, but way too many to recap. Now we’re slowing down for awhile…done with weddings for the year except G’s cousin Thanksgiving weekend. The fall weather has arrived and we’re enjoying our Sundays filled with football and relaxing.

Next I will have to catch you up on the crafts I’ve been making, house projects we’ve completed and ones we hope to finish soon, and more Pinterest bests and worsts, which I’ve found plenty of lately! Hope everyone else is enjoying this beautiful fall and harvest!

Mountains, Memories, and Miss Marlee

It’s a mixed emotions type day for me today. My baby sister {okay, I guess she’s 24} is in a moving truck with her boyfriend headed across the Midwest on their way to Denver, Colorado to start a new job in a new city.  I have mixed emotions because I am SO happy and excited for her, but I’m also sad and of course a little jealous of her new adventure. It also makes me reminisce on my own past, and look forward for her future. I know she has an exciting ride ahead of her and can’t wait to see where this journey leads her! I’m so proud of my sister and know that even though we’ll all miss her and Andrew, this is all just part of God’s plan for them!

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10 years ago, I packed up and drove my little red Jeep out to Colorado, too. I cried the whole 10 hours there {seriously—the whole way}, not sure I was making the right decision. I was headed to Boulder to start my freshman year of college at the University of Colorado. I remember when I got my acceptance letter from Colorado [& I cried for days because I was so happy]. THIS was where I was going to start my adult life and where I was going to go to college. THIS was where I would first be out in the world on my own. At 18, as it turned out, I was too far from home to be happy and I only lasted a year in Boulder before I was ready to come back to be an Iowa Hawkeye. I cried the whole 10 hours home, again, not sure I was making the right decision.

Sometimes I look back and wonder what would have been if I had stayed in Colorado. Who would my friends be today? What would my job be? Where would I live? But when I think about that—I have to also think about what I would have had to give up in order for that to happen, and I realize that for certain, everything happens for a reason.

First, I wouldn’t have gotten to be a part of Zeta Tau Alpha. I joined a sorority so I could meet new people at Iowa, especially since I was a transfer student and didn’t have the experience at Iowa living in the dorms. During rush, I didn’t think Zeta was my first choice–but I sure am glad they saw something in me and asked me to be a part of their organization. Being in ZTA introduced me to some of the most incredible friends I could have ever met. These women touched my life, helped me grow into who I am today, and became family. I know being in a sorority isn’t for everyone, but it was one of the best decisions I made for me, and I am thankful my parents were supportive and helped me be a part of the organization that I am still proud to be active in today.

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Second, had I not followed my heart and moved back, I wouldn’t have ever lived or worked at The Lodge. Who knew it would be such an important part of my life!?  My roommate at The Lodge was a “random roommate” assigned by the office staff. Little did I know that the wild blonde girl in a short jean skirt would take a liking to me, the underage, badly dressed brunette, and become my 3rd sister and a bridesmaid in my wedding years later. I am truly blessed that Katie and I were thrown together like we were and are still such close friends….that wasn’t by chance, but I’m certain by fate.

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And of course….if it hadn’t been for The Lodge and the rowdy group of boys from Fort Dodge with whom I became fast friends, I would have never met my husband and soul mate. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without him, and I thank God every day for placing him in my life.

Lastly, had I not moved back from Colorado to graduate from Iowa, I might not have moved to Des Moines after college. And if I hadn’t moved to Des Moines after college, I may not have gotten the opportunity to spend a year and a half living with my sister as an adult, and becoming closer to her than I ever imagined we would. Living with my sister as an adult was truly one of the best experiences of my life, and I don’t know that I’ve ever really told her that. Getting the opportunity to know her as a friend is something I will always cherish, and I hope she looks back on that time fondly as well. When I moved out it was a happy time because I was moving to be in Ohio with G, but it was also sad because I knew that we would probably never get the chance to live together again.

216_557357274539_8939_nSinging “Wanna Be” by Spice Girls–our “go-to” Karaoke song! 7535_763721498979_632307_nBefore the Britney Spears concert!!

Now as she moves on with this next chapter in her life, as her older (and wiser) sister, I hope she takes time to experience all of the wonderful things Colorado has to offer. I hope she makes life long new friends, has lots of success in her career, and remembers how much those of us in Iowa miss and love her. I pray she follows her heart and continues to grow in her relationship with her boyfriend. I am so proud to be her sister and will miss her very much. But don’t worry, Mar and Andrew–we will be out to visit very soon!! 🙂