Planning a Baby Shower & How NOT Die Doing It.

Much like planning a wedding shower for your best friend, sister, or your close co worker planning a baby shower comes with high expectations, budget issues, differing opinions, and so much more. It can be overwhelming and you may be thinking you JUST CAN’T DO IT. I am here to tell you first, yes you can and go grab a glass of wine. Now let’s get down to business. Here are a few of my own tips to planning a beautiful shower on any budget.

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1.Designate who is in charge and is the main point person on the project.

Someone has to be the big Kahuna and make the tough decisions, right? Having a few extra hands to work and brains around to bounce ideas off of are great… but when there is no clear Queen B, things can get confusing really fast. The main point person is usually the person who’s house you will be using for the shower or a person who is very close to the guest of honor as they may know preferences, family members/dynamics (don’t seat Aunt Elma next to Cousin Sheryl unless you want a blow up!) and other pertinent information to the event.

2. Have the awkward $$ conversation at the very beginning.

The main issues in planning events where more than one person is “hosting” or in charge is that there is too many opinions and expectations and no one clearly communicates exactly what they are trying to say… or wants to avoid awkward conversations. Avoidance doesn’t help anyone here. Is it awkward to talk about money with people you are close with or even with strangers?? SURE IS, but it has to be done. So agree that there is no judgement and whatever someone can pitch in or contribute, is just fine. Knowing that there are no surprises when it comes to the budget and in turn the shower is much more gratifying than avoiding an awkward conversation. 

3. Agree to respect and listen to everyones opinions.

If you are lucky and blessed enough to have many people who want to be involved and help with the planning an instrumentation of the shower, your are gonna have unique and differing opinions. Opinions about EV-ER-Y-THANG! You don’t want to hurt anyones feelings or alienate anyone, and hey, you may just get some ideas that surprise and delight you. Listen, accept, and decide. 

4. Figure out a theme or color scheme.

As much as you may want to throw your hands in the air and scream “I GIVE UP!!”, with all the pressures your under from work, boyfriend/spouse, keeping up with workouts and diets, shopping for a gift, family pressures, etc., you can’t. You and I both know it wouldn’t be nice or right. Make time… yes you heard me, carve out a lunch, FaceTime call, coffee date or whatever to come up with a color scheme, theme or however you want to corral this event into something resembling organized and cute. You’ll be glad you did and a disorganized event is no fun- for the hosts or guests.

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5. Delegate roles to entrusted helpers with clear deadlines.

This goes hand in hand with #4. Once you’ve settled on a theme and what you are and aren’t doing. No, Aunt Judy- thanks but we really don’t need your vocal talents at this event. You need to start making clear deadlines that everyone can work towards. Don’t leave everything to the last minute or else you’ll be hating yourself later for it.

RSVPS: Set the date for 2 weeks from before the event date. This ensures you get at least a week to reach out to those who have forgotten to respond and give the caterer a head count with enough notice (if you’re using one). If you aren’t using one whoever is doing the food/refreshments shouldn’t be purchasing a bulk of the goods until the week before because 1. Who has that much fridge space? And 2. If they are using any fresh items you don’t want them going bad. 

DECOR: You can start buying/renting (reserve it and it will get delivered or picked up) as early as you want! With the exception of fresh florals or elements (think gourds, apples, etc.typically used in table scapes), most of this can be collected over time. You need to decide what extra stations you will be having. For example a photo and prop area, a cocktail table, a dessert display table, a sign in or gift table, that way you know what needs to be decorated.

FOOD: Make a plan to get it catered and go over wants and avoids with the caterer. Always order for a couple extra (most caters will already do this). If you are doing the food yourself, make a menu that doesn’t kill you, with a bulk of the items being things that you can assemble and go! Like salad kits, caprese salads on skewers, pre chopped fruit stored in gallon size bags or plastic containers, soups that can be warmed and served in a crock pot. Many of these are make ahead items and can save you so much time by only having to place them on a platter on the day of. 

6. Expect and accept that things will go wrong, so have a plan B. 

BE ON YOUR TOES WOMAN. Something will go wrong and you need to either have a plan B or accept it and go with the flow. Tia Beatriz always shows up with a random friend from Bingo… accept it and plan for it, you don’t have to like it but realize it’s a possibility and be ready for it. That way when it does happen you wont mind… as much… and will be as cool as that bottle of rosé chilling in the fridge. 

7. Enlist some muscle to help lift and reach the heavy and high things before and after the event.

This is self explanatory but parties require heavy lifting and if you aren’t renting, you’ll be getting swole during set up curling those tables and chairs. This could be a brother, a dad, a fiancé, you’re really buff best girl friend, no matter who, just get some help. Remember you’ll want people to help before AND after the event. 

8. Always over order on food and drinks.

I kind of touched upon this when I spoke of food in #5, but I really can’t stress it enough. At least for me (being Mexican, culturally, running out of food or drinks to serve is a tragedy!), this would be mortifying. I’d rather have some leftovers and know everyone was good and fed than for a guest to leave hungry.

9. Make your person of honor feel like a queen or goddess.

This is their special day! If they are a type A-ish personality (eheeemmm me ehheemmm), and want to help, don’t let them- or only let them in on certain aspects of planning so they feel like they are helping. Tell them to go get a mani/pedi, hair or make up done, or whatever. Maybe you want them to get a flower crown, sash or a special wine glass to drink from, don’t matter, just know they’ll really love and appreciate the extra special love and attention to detail that went into it.

10. Give yourself more time than you need for set up on the day of. 

Set up takes time and inevitably someone is always running late and things just take longer than you think to happen. Give yourself extra time, no one wants to arrive to an event where the host isn’t there to greet and meet with them. With that being said, make sure the person of honor is there on time- if not early as well. People are there to celebrate, honor, and see them as well.

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11. Have fun!!

After all this is a celebration! Yes, it can be stressful but in the end all you want to remember is how worth it it was to plan a celebration for someone you love and how great it turned out. You don’t want to remember the stress and/or drama. 

Cheers!

xo,

Cass

{Contributing Writer Ramona Craft} Seattle Fall Vacation Guide: How to 'Fall' in Love with Seattle

Really excited to feature one of my best friends as a contributing writer on Elissandra & Co. I really admire her spontaneous nature and her ability to give it to you straight. Living with her impacted me so much and caused me to be more of a boss. She found herself back in Seattle, WA. My husband and I have visited her both in Fall and Summer and always trust her judgment from food to festivals, she has a plethora of knowledge and is always willing to share. Seattle is one of our favorite cities to visit, I find people always rave about how beautiful summers are and Fall and Winter are always given a bad rap. Ramona will enlighten you on why the Fall is her favorite season in Seattle and why you should visit now!

Enjoy!

♡,

Liz



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Seattle is known (or notorious) for one thing: rain. There is a secret beginning to be recognized about our summers though, they’re amazing! But now that people know about summers, they have become expensive and crowded. So how does a savvy traveler like yourself enjoy the best of the city while avoiding the depressing rainy season and the dreaded tourist season?

There is a little-known segment of time where this city is absolute magic. Fall is that time. Fall begins on exactly August 31st, it doesn’t want us to get spoiled and soft with too many beautiful summer days. It wants us cynical and scrappy just like out founders who built the city on gold rush miners and prostitution.

Traveling at this time can be risky because after August 31st occasionally Seattle weather decides to skip fall entirely and slide right into Emo Season (the Season of Sadness, Depression Interval, Winter of My Discontent, the Big Damp...perhaps you get my point here). But when fall happens, it is stunning. And there is so much to do!

So, here’s my Seattle Fall Vacation Guide: How to Fall in Love with Seattle. There’s plenty of play by play do this and that’s out there, but I’m a freewheeling kind of gal so I’m going to throw out some awesome and you can see what sticks.

Oktoberfests

Yes, that’s plural. As in, the Seattle area has MANY Oktoberfests. A city with an almost endless, bleak, grey winter founded on bathtub gin and scam artists is a city that drinks and knows how to drink. Oktoberfest is the cusp of winter and celebrates drinking. Sure, you may argue that there is some other point to Oktoberfest but, no one knows what that is so I’m skipping it. I stopped counting after 17, so for an exhaustive list of how to have a hangover click here:

Pumpkin Beer

Did I mention that Seattle likes to drink alcohol? Seattle also likes to make alcohol! There are no less than 1 million breweries in Seattle. Now that’s an approximate number, but I’m confident it’s close to accurate. Of those 1 million breweries every single one creates a pumpkin beer (pumpkin beer is Seattle’s pumpkin spice latte, you may be basic for drinking it, but everyone does so just do it and own your shame). I have personally tried and forgotten half of these and can recommend you try them and tell me what you think. (here)

Pumpkin Patches

If you decide to pry yourself off a barstool for your health and for the sake of the children you’ve left behind, maybe try to get out of town. Surprisingly, Seattle is surrounded by small farm agriculture. Is that a surprise? It was to me. They may be a bit of a seasonal cliché, but I adore pumpkin patches; crisp weather, scarves, hot cider, and kids picking out pumpkins is like a painting or Insta post that you thought was staged. Seriously, it’s so cute you could just die. Mumford-esq bands playing, corn mazes, wagon rides and vegi stands are just waiting for a chance to fool you into thinking that winter isn’t coming. For Insta-cute overload go to any of these.

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Fall Colors

Pretty much anywhere you go in the city you can catch some spectacular fall leaves. There are a couple of neighborhoods that deserves some special attention though.

The University District is the ultimate neighborhood to remind you of what an idiot you were in your teens and early 20’s. It’s a neighborhood unsteadily perched on a bedrock of Maruchan Ramen Noodles, patchouli and PBR. But it is also home to the University of Washington (I’m told I need to follow this with Go Huskies!) which is stunning and does not smell of at all of hormones and desperation, unlike the rest of the neighborhood. Definitely check out the main entrance to the school which is beautiful colors in fall and cherry blossoms in spring. And if you feel like reliving your teen angst take a walk down Greek Row, ignore the students and soak in the trees and buildings that make this area so special.

Discovery Park is another spot that deserves a visit, especially in the fall. One of the largest urban parks in America this one has everything you could need. Historic landmarks and history? Check. Old growth forests of pine and deciduous trees? Check. Rolling plains of long grass? Check. Seaside cliffs and sand dunes? Oh yeah, we got that too.

To explore far beyond the two I’ve mentioned check out this list of tried and true spots for family photos, engagements and general social media envy here.

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Halloween

Halloween in Seattle is a little bit like Oktoberfest, lots of creepy kids over-indulging. Now, there are plenty of places to take your actual children for actual trick-or-treating. It seems like I see fewer and fewer parents escorting their littles around neighborhoods knocking on doors, but many of the pumpkin patches, shopping centers, community centers and various other sorts of well-lit family friendly spots are opening up for candy Candy CANDY! But, Halloween is often when all the little ghosts and goblins seek out the not so well-lit areas. They sneak into alleys and fields to try to scare all of us. The dark and stormy night leads to dark and stormy drinks.

Depending on your idea of fun, there are some options: many of the pumpkin patches you went to earlier in the month transform into haunted mazes under the stars; the Halloween Pub Crawl is pretty much the best place to see awesome (adult) costumes and Georgetown Morgue is by far the best traditional haunted house experience. But my favorite, by far, is to go to actual (if you believe in that kind of thing) haunted places. Smith Tower and the Sorrento Hotel both host spooky events. Look it up and read the legend.

For a full month of ridiculously dreadful, fearsome events (and some odds and ends of other shenanigans) try this.

For a city built on grit and stupidly fierce stubbornness we here in Seattle really have hardscrabbled together a pretty special place. Come see what we’ve got for a couple days, but then go home because the traffic is improbably terrible when it rains.















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Ramona Craft was raised in Southern California but has called Seattle home for the last 10 years. She works diligently to reign in her natural cynicism to find joy in the little things. She is a sometimes writer, sometimes photographer, full time dreamer of independent wealth and dog mom. Currently however, she works in Property Management. All photos are taken by herself and you can see her work here.



Fall Baby Food

One thing I love about Fall is the array of natural flavors we get to enjoy. Baby food doesn’t have to be bland and now a days mom’s are getting more creative with their babies nourishment. It doesn’t have to take much effort to create healthy food for your babe. The two ingredients that my babe is loving right now are:

Cinnamon

Sweet and cozy cinnamon is a signature flavor in the fall. Adding a bit of cinnamon to baby food is a fantastic way to begin offering interesting flavor to your little one's developing palate. You can dress up roasted or pureed carrots with a dash of cinnamon to mimic the glazed carrots on your family table. Or sprinkle some on baby's hot cereal at breakfast time for a warming, sticky-bun-inspired treat.


Pumpkin

With a subtle flavor and natural sweetness, babies love pumpkin. If you're baking up pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread or other pumpkin-y treats this season, set aside some puree for baby to try. Serve it on its own or jazzed up with a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves). You can even feed your baby straight-from-the-can canned pumpkin, which is pre-cooked and pre-pureed – it's an amazingly quick and easy way to introduce this fall classic to your baby. In fact, you might even say it's as easy as pie.

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is rich in alpha-carotene and beta-carotene compounds, which convert into vitamin A inside the body. Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes. Butternut squash is rich in fiber, which promotes healthy bowel movement. It eventually helps minimize indigestion and constipation in babies. Antioxidants in squash have anti-inflammatory properties that can help if the baby has inflammatory auto-immune diseases. Squash contains vitamin C and nearly all B-complex vitamins, which ensure optimum functioning of the immune system. Babies love it for it’s natural sweetness. I introduced this as well as avocados for my sons first food and they were a hit!


PUMPKIN TREAT

Ingredients:

1/2 small organic Pie Pumpkin

1/4 cup Greek Yogurt

1 Banana

Instructions:

Seed and skin 1/2 pumpkin. To skin a pumpkin cut into hand size pieces and with a knife, cut away the tough skin. Chop pumpkin into bite size pieces.

Place pumpkin onto the Baby Bullet steam tray, add in water, cover and let cook for 10 minutes. (Steam on stove top if you don’t have the Baby Bullet System)

Let cool slightly.

Place pumpkin, yogurt and banana into Baby Bullet and puree until smooth.

Will last 4 days in fridge or 3 months in freezer. 



PUMPKIN TREAT SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

Pumpkin Puree


1 small ripe banana


1/4 cup vanilla or plain yogurt


1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


1/4 teaspoon flax seeds


1/2 cup ice

Instructions:

Add the puree, banana, yogurt, pumpkin pie spice, flax seeds and ice into a blender and blend on hight for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. For a thicker smoothie, you can add in an additional 1/2 cup of ice before blending. If your little one is adverse to cold beverages, you an simply leave out the ice and have a more ‘juice’ like consistency smoothie, or make the smoothie and let sit on the counter for 15 minutes before serving.
Pour into sippy cup or cup with straw and serve. 

Pumpkin Puree - you can also use 1/2 cup of pure pumpkin puree that is found in the baking aisle for this recipe. 

Toddler Option - for a sweeter smoothie for toddlers, you can add in 2 teaspoons of agave nectar, honey (for kiddos over the age of 1) or maple syrup. 

Age - from about 8+ months through adults

Storage: Will last overnight in fridge but will need to be shaken to re-mix all ingredients



AUTUMN SMOOTHIE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain, vanilla or banana yogurt

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

dash of ginger

1 frozen banana

Instructions:

Combine in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Age - from about 8+ months through adults

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Any kind of squash or sweet potato works

Baking: (You can steam as well, I just find this method the easiest. )

  • Cut the squash into two halves in length. Scoop out the lower section that has seeds.

  • Preheat the oven to 350 °F (176 °C). Place the two halves of squash on a baking tray. Add butter to each side.

  • Bake for an hour. Once done, scoop out the soft pulp from skin. Puree or mash the baked pulp before feeding your little one. Optional: Adding some almond milk and a little dash of ginger will give it a creamy texture.




{Purely} Picky Pitts

Your pitts have a problem. Mine did too. A couple years ago I started going green and clean around my house with cleaners, starting with Seventh Generation and Method products and slowly moving on to Norwex products (I LOVE them, more on them in a later post). Eventually this cleansing of our home led to my bath, personal, and make up products. I have been searching what seems like forever for an all natural deodorant that is moderately priced, actually works,  and available in a stick or roll on application. There are plenty of options out there for natural deodorant prices but I feel like all the good ones that actually work cost about $25-$30. I mean, C’MON!!! I can’t afford that. I’ve gone through several different brands in my pursuit for pure pitts and each one had their pros and cons. I *think” I have finally found one that I love and will keep using, thank god. See below for the different ones I’ve tried and which is my fav!!

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Piper Wai

$11.99 for a 2oz jar (15% savings if you subscribe)

$16.99 for a 2.7oz stick (15% saving if you subscribe)

$5.00 for a 2-pack of .27oz Mini Jars

Initially I saw Piper Wai on Shark Tank and was really excited to try it. I bit the bullet and paid the $12 (it may have been higher since this was years ago) plus taxes and shipping. Also at this time they did not sell the convenient stick but only the jar. My first impression of the product was that it smelled good and was packaged nicely. When using the deodorant I did not like having to use my hand to apply it to the skin. Personally I already wash my hand s about 100 times a day so having to do so one more time just kind of annoyed me. I felt like the product would work for the first couple of hours but would stop past hour 4 or if I was doing something really intense. My job is quite physical, so I need something that will hold up to a lot of movement and sweat. 

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Native

$12.00 for a 2.65oz stick (17% savings if you subscribe ($10), free shipping too )

$30.00 for a sample pack that includes 3 full sized (2.65oz) bars (17% savings if you subscribe, free shipping too)

$24.00 for a sample travel pack that includes 5 travel sized (0.6oz) bars (17% savings if you subscribe, free shipping too) 

I discovered Native by way of Instagram ads. I LOVED Native immediately since their deodorant actually works and automatically came in a stick. Also they have a much better price point than Piper Wai (for their stick application), although still expensive compared to mainstream brands. The deodorant went on smoothly and for the most part you did not get the white streaks if you rubbed the deodorant in by passing your arms back and forth (front to back). I love that Native has tons of scent options for every nose and seasonal scents as well. I ultimately stopped using Native because I started having an allergic reaction to the product. Upon noticing the reaction (a red bumpy sensitive rash on my under arms) I contacted a representative from Native to ask if they have had anyone else experience this. They were very helpful and knowledgeable and gave me some tips to try to help. I switched to their sensitive skin formula and it did not really help. I really wish my body would have liked their formula more since they have so many fun scent options.

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Schmidt’s

$4.69 for 2.65oz stick (from Target)

$8.99 for 3.25oz stick (from Schmidt’s website, free shipping)

$43.99 for 5 3.25oz stick bundle pack (savings of a couple bucks)

What’s nice about Schmidts is that it is super accessible because you can purchase it at Target as opposed to the ones I’ve mentioned previously. The sizes and scents available at Target are limited. You are paying around the same price as mainstream deodorant, possibly a little bit more. On Schmidts website they offer so many more scent options that sound divine. I didn’t have quite as bad of a reaction with Schmidts deodorant and was able to control it. I stopped using Schmidts because Target had it back ordered and I ran out. Additionally it wasn’t my favorite to keep seeking it out. I didn’t like that I got white marks on my clothes and that it didn’t feel like it fully absorbed.

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Kopari

$14.00 for 2.0oz stick (also available in fragrance free)(5% off and free shipping with subscription)

$28.00 for 2 0.9oz mini deo duo travel sticks 

I have finally found the deodorant that pleases my picky pitts. I like it because it smells like rose petals and coconut oil. Kopari comes in a stick form and when you first put it on, it almost feels wet, but it soaks in fairly quickly, glides on smoothly, and I never have had white streaks as it dries. Even better, my pitts didn’t react to this deodorant!!! I never have stinky pitts at work as this lasts all through my 6-7 hour shifts. The only downside I can see is that it isn’t super accessible, as in you cannot buy it in store accept in one place that I’ve seen, Sephora. But with a subscription service this isn’t that big of a deal. The last thing that is super cool is that Kopari offers a rewards points program. You get points for purchases and other activities, think social media shares, reviews, etc., that you can redeem for free swag and product. So cool!

Tap Dat "App": Fitness App Reviews

No matter your workout style or budget there is a workout app for you, whether it is to start a routine or supplement your current program. The three I mentioned here are just a few of what is available. All of these ladies have done a fantastic job making fitness accessible and fun. Now it’s just up to you to choose! 

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Labor Day Frozé-eezy

For Labor Day weekend the last thing you want to do is “labor” over a refreshing cocktail. It’s also about time to use up your bottles of Rosé and replace them with Pinot Noir. This poor man’s frozé will definitely refresh you this holiday weekend. 

What you’ll need:

  • Rosé (dry works best)
  • Frozen Sorbet (I used Talenti in Roman Raspberry)
  • Mint Leaves
  • Prosecco (you can substitute with sparkling water as well)

-Scoop 4 scoops of sorbet into a glass. Pour Rosé about halfway, fill the rest up with Prosecco. Top with mint leaves. 

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