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How to Throw a Gluten-Free First Birthday Party in Winter

Some mamas would start this post by saying they can’t believe how fast the first year went and they can’t believe their baby is already one. Yes, I feel that way, too, but I’ll save you the schmaltz.

Except for this. Just look!


This post is about how we celebrated our baby’s first birthday just a few days before Christmas without it feeling like an extension of the winter holiday season.

The party was held in Tiny Apartment Land during the lunch hour on a cold December day, so the food had to be warm, filling, and easy to eat. And gluten-free.

The decorations needed to be reusable. As little waste as possible, please. And not wintry or Christmasy. So down came the snowflakes and stockings.

On my first trip to the party store, I found my inspiration: these cheery cupcake liners with polka dots in robin’s egg blue, apple green, golden yellow, and pumpkin orange.


Armed with a distinct color story, I felt like maybe I could pull off a non-Christmasy party three days before Christmas.

A special new wreath on the front door featuring felt flowers in the party’s colors. (It’s the same base I’m using now for the Valentine’s Day wreath. I wrapped a straw wreath in super fuzzy white yarn and made felt rosettes to match the party’s color story.)


A special book for guests to sign (Dr. Seuss’s Happy Birthday to You!). We are a bookish sort of family, so what better way to commemorate the first anniversary of our little bookworm’s hatching?

Paper lanterns & robin’s egg blue tableware (disposable, sadly) – but the lanterns were later repurposed to nursery decor.



Name bunting above the birthday girl’s high chair. (I Photoshopped out her name here, for privacy, but you can see the colors that each letter came in.)


Cupcake toppers featuring the birthday’s girl mugshot.


The menu
Sauceless Swedish meatballs (made with gluten-free bread crumbs).

A variety of roll-ups (black beans with roasted red pepper hummus, ham with brie, and turkey with guacamole) all on gluten-free tortillas.

Fresh fruit and veggie trays.

Corn tortilla chips with salsa.

Cupcakes (made with Bob’s Red Mill vanilla cake mix) with buttercream frosting. Yes, even the Bambina got to eat one. She later threw most of it back up. After months of breastmilk spit-up, I had happily forgotten what real barf smelled like. I’ll take sour milk anyday.


Keeping it waste-less (not quite waste-free)
The invitations were sent via email.

The paper lanterns, bunting, and flowers on the wreath became nursery decorations. (Is it called a nursery when the little girl who sleeps there isn’t technically a baby anymore? She is still nursing, but we do that all over the place…)

Leftover food was shared at the very-extended-family Christmas dinner the next day and unopened packages of the disposable tableware were returned to the store.

Happy birthday, baby girl!

We take our cake very seriously around here.



Fall’s inspiring colors

There was an amazing thunderstorm yesterday afternoon, but the rain paused for just a few minutes right as the Bambina was waking up from her nap.  So I grabbed the camera and we did a little puddle-stomping.

Alright, I did the stomping.  She was content to be in the carrier.

And no, I didn’t actually stomp in any puddles, but I still managed to soak the bottom of my pants.

Here are a few of the beautiful colors we found.



She’s finally home!

Chompable Mamma-Jewelry

We recently reached a momentous milestone in the bambina’s short life:  6 months old!  That’s half a year!  How did that happen?

She’s been showing more and more signs of teething lately – drooling through multiple shirts a day, chomping hard on her fingers and my own, putting everything within reach into her gummy little mouth, and responding positively to iced pacifiers and clove oil on her gums.  She’s also been more and more grabby (which is only a problem when I don’t want her grabbing anything that’s actually in reach, like my hair, or breakable and probably germy products on a store shelf), so I decided it was time to find something for her to play with and chomp on while I’m holding her.

I found some beautiful necklaces on Etsy that I absolutely love, like this…

And this…

And this…

But in the spirit of homemade, I headed out to my local craft store and found some supplies to make my own. Boy, was that a mistake.  It turns out I am a terrible jewelry designer, especially when it comes to practical necklaces that are baby-mouth safe.   My first two attempts were not even worthy of photographing – they ended up being disassembled to harvest the beads and then the cord got trashed.

Take two.  I ordered two wooden teething rings from Life Circles Necklaces on Etsy, one of which became a necklace when I strung a silk cord through it (the other went  in the bambina’s toy basket).

Too bad she enjoys sucking on the cord more than anything else.  It’s also slightly uncomfortable to have hanging around my neck when she’s not actively playing with it, so I went back to my original plan of knotting some beads onto cord.  Here are the two necklaces I ended up with.

The first one uses cotton cord knotted in a friendship bracelet style with small red and orange glass beads spaced evenly along the cord.

The second one is made of narrow ribbon and blue glass beads, also assembled via the friendship bracelet style of knotting.

(Thank goodness for all of those years of making bracelets at summer camp!)

“But, Jacelyn,” I hear you exclaiming, “you’re letting her chew on glass beads?!”  Yep, I sure am.  But a) she still has no teeth, so technically she’s just gumming them, and b) I double-check them every time I grab a necklace to make sure they’re all still fully intact, and c) I supervise her when she’s playing with them.  And to be perfectly honest, she pretty much spends all her time sucking on the cord or ribbon; any bead-mouthing is just collateral damage.  When she gets to the point that I’m actually worried about her having those beads in her mouth, I’ll make another necklace that’s just knots, possibly embellished with wooden beads.

So, the bottom line…  In the end, it would have been more cost- and time-efficient to order a finished product.  But I enjoyed challenging myself to create something that I would enjoy wearing and that the bambina would enjoy playing with.  And she does enjoy playing with them.  Mostly I wear them when I’m carrying her in a sling or other carrier – they keep her entertained and busy when we’re just standing around, and they distract her from needing to grab at everything else.  Mission accomplished.

Ahh, True Blood…

Never have I wanted to be able to pause live TV more than last night when both True Blood and the bambina were calling my name at the same time.

In the end, of course, the bambina won.  She always does.

New Ways to Spend My Time

The sewing machine has been in the repair shop for two weeks now, and I must admit, I’m going through serious withdrawals.  Especially since Bambina has started taking some really great naps.  So, I’ve had to find some new ways to spend my time.  Here are a few ways I’ve been spending my time lately…

Embroidered Bambina’s monogram onto her baby quilt.

Embroidered a sleeping dragon onto a Onesie for a friend’s new baby (it’s the year of the dragon!).

Made a simple baby doll for that dragon baby.

Made some magnets for the grandmas for Mother’s Day.  (And a couple for myself.)

And a whole lotta this…

Yep, lots of time doing this.

Did I mention I’ve been working on this?

Ok, I admit, what you see in the pictures is actually 18 months worth of knitting.  I’ve actually only put on about 10 stripes in the last two weeks.  This little knit blanket has been sitting in my project basket untouched for probably 8 months.  Every so often I’d pull it out and add a few more rows, but then once the Bambina came along, I kind of got distracted.  Now that she’s got a decent bedtime and I have a few minutes to just sit in the evening, this little puppy might actually get finished and given away!  (When a friend asked me who I was making it for, I said it would be for the next baby who was born after it was finished.  Since that conversation, not only has she had a baby, and I’ve had a baby, but I know of five other babies who have been born to close friends and family.  Blanket still not finished.  I’m just waiting for the right baby, I guess.)

Another Craft Hope Apron

Apron for Craft Hope

Craft Hope project 17 is up and running, and here’s my contribution…

This little half-apron features a purple ruffle around the edges and a small purple pocket with bright red heart.  It was super easy to make – I think I need to make a few more!

Learn more about Craft Hope.

Patchwork bunny

Not-so-lazy Sunday

I started out the day with every intent to simply savor a quiet day with Bambina and Papa, and ended up completing more of my to-do list than I thought I could:

  • make a new fitted sheet for Bambina’s crib (love it)
  • test a new recipe for apple-banana cookies (needs work)
  • convert an old tank-top into a nursing tank (super handy)

Besides doing the things I had originally planned on:

  • hang out with Bambina and Papa
  • check up on my brackets to see how I’m doing in the group (as of now, 2nd place – woot!)
  • check in with Grandma about the family Easter dinner
  • laundry, laundry, laundry

I’ll take it.