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Olivia's Mediterranean Inspired 1st Birthday Party

 

I seriously can’t believe my baby is one! This past year was the fastest year of my life, but also the most fulfilling. I love watching Olivia grow up, and am continually amazed at how much she learns every day.

When I was thinking of a theme for her first birthday party, I knew I wanted it to be unique and have some meaning behind it. My inspiration for her Mediterranean inspired birthday party came from two things: her nickname, Baby Olives, and a gorgeous dress our friends got her when they went to Greece.

I made the invitations and envelope liners myself (I’ll post a tutorial on how to make envelope liners soon). Also, because I love beautiful postage stamps, I just had to curate a set of stamps that went along with the Mediterranean theme. Aren’t they gorgeous?!

Mediterranean inspired invitations
Mediterranean postage stamps

I wanted to have something at the party that the adults could do, so we set up an olive oil tasting game. There were five different olive oils, each with a slightly different flavor profile. The guests were to taste each one and try to match the olive oil in the dish to the bottle it came from. I chose not to use infused olive oil flavors just to make the game a bit harder. The winner received, of course, a nice bottle of olive oil!

For the food, my mother and mother-in-law made an amazing Mediterranean feast! A lot of the food was made from produce from our garden (that my husband grew!). We had the tastiest falafel ever with cucumber sauce, rice and lentils, cucumber and tomato salad, caprese skewers, bruschetta, and pesto pasta salad. There were three spreads for the bread and crackers: hummus, baba ganoush, and sun-dried tomato pesto. And we had the most amazing charcuterie board full of extra fixings such as dates, caramelized walnuts, and roasted red peppers.

There were cakes too, although I don’t have any photos of them unfortunately. We set them on the display stands and bees immediately came for all the sugar on them, so we covered them up until it was time for dessert.

They were super good though! I had made mini olive oil bundt cakes with a lemon glaze. If you’ve never had a olive oil cake before, it’s a traditional Italian cake made with olive oil instead of butter. Since I didn’t get any photos of these cakes, I think I might make more and share my recipe in another blog post.

We also had adorable sugar cookies made by Dorothy Ann Bakery. Lemons, flowers, and number ones!

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For the kids, we held a simple Olympic Games. There was the long jump, discus, balance beam, hurdles, javelin throw, and a race. We used a frisbee for the discus and a dowel for the javelin throw. When it was over, the kids lined up and we had a little “ceremony” where they were awarded their metals!

We didn’t do a traditional smash cake with Livvy, mainly because I forgot to make the coconut whipped cream (haha oops). But she loves raspberries, so we piled those on top of her cake (which was a banana cake!)

Oh, and she refused to wear her olive branch crown. Still looked cute though!

The party was held in a park right on the Mississippi River. A cool, foggy morning turned into a beautiful, sunny 80 degrees.

We had a wonderful day celebrating our baby girl! She is our pride and joy, and we love her so much.

 

Our Modern Baby Book | Artifact Uprising

 

The most gorgeous baby album keepsake

Artifact Uprising Baby Book

As I sit here, Olivia is 10 months old and trying to hit the keyboard as I type. Where has the time gone? This post is long overdue lol.

When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a physical baby album. Although, I wanted more than just a generic pocket album from the store. I wanted it to be beautiful; something I could leave out on the coffee table and it fit right in with the decor. I wanted it to have space to write down the memories that went along with the photos. But most importantly, I wanted it to be a special keepsake piece for my daughter.

I’m a huge fan of Artifact Uprising and their albums and prints. Their modern baby book, The Story of You, fit all the traits I was looking for!

My parents were so kind and gifted the Olive colored one to us because, of course, of our Baby Olives (as I like to call her). 😄

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At the beginning of the album is a couple pages for the parents to share about their life before baby arrived. I can just imagine Olivia all grown up, looking back at what Mommy and Daddy were like before she was born!

The rest of the book goes month by month through the first year of life, with prompts and spaces to fill out memories and place prints. There’s also beautiful quotes, pages to write letters to your little one, and even a pocket to keep special cards. It’s binder layout means that you can purchase and add extra pages wherever you’d like so that you can keep more pictures and memories!

Artifact Uprising Baby Book
Artifact Uprising Baby Book

I can’t wait to show Olivia her baby book someday. I know it’ll bring smiles to both of our faces.


Do you keep a baby album for your kids?


 

Spring in San Diego (And 12 Things To Do While You’re There)

 

Our first trip with a baby!

A quick walk at Mission Trails and a stop to see the wildflowers.

A quick walk at Mission Trails and a stop to see the wildflowers.

Last month we got to escape the never-ending Minnesota winter and spend two weeks in sunny San Diego! And when I say never-ending, I actually mean it. There was a record-breaking snowstorm back home that dumped over a foot of snow in two days. Yikes.

This was our first time traveling a long distance with a baby, and I have to say, it wasn’t as hard as I imagined! We had great flights—4 hours nonstop in the middle of the day—and our first flight wasn’t full so we had a whole row to ourselves. Olivia adjusted to the time change very quickly and she experienced so many new things!

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Most of our trip photos were taking on my phone, as I’m trying to be more present in everyday moments instead of trying to capture every “beautiful” picture.

I did bring my DSLR along though! The 3 photos above (the palm tree, the yellow flower, and the flowers among the leaves) are ones that I submitted to Unsplash. Unsplash is a stock photo site that actually has (very) beautiful, free images for you to use. You can download my photos (I have more on there too) here!

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If you’re looking for recommendations on things to do in San Diego other than SeaWorld or the Zoo, here are my picks:

  • The beach

    • We went to a few beaches during our visit: Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, and Stan’s Beach in San Diego, and Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas. Ocean Beach has a really great laid back, hippy vibe to it. Marijuana is legal in California, so OB (as the locals call it) is probably not the best option for your family beach day. Moonlight State Beach was really nice, and you can walk up the shore and see the cliffs.

  • Taylor Guitars Factory Tour (every Monday through Friday at 1 pm)

    • This is an amazing tour! You get to see the entire process of guitar construction, from wood selection to final assembly. It’s free too.

  • Coronado Island

    • A trip to San Diego is not complete without a visit to Coronado Island. We love to walk along the Stan’s Beach; it’s gorgeous!

  • Sunset Cliffs

  • La Jolla

    • We got some ice cream here at Scoops La Jolla after walking by the coast and taking a look at the sea lions.

  • Mission Trails Regional Park

    • I wish we had more time to hike these trails! I really wanted to see some of the wildflowers that were blooming, so I researched and found a beautiful trail at this park. The Oak Canyon trail is more shady than some of the other trails, follows along a river, and isn’t too difficult of a hike.

  • Balboa Park

    • My favorite place to just stroll around. I have yet to hear music played at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, but if you’re able to, I’m sure it’s amazing! There are a bunch of interesting museums and peaceful gardens in the park and the architecture is absolutely breathtaking!

  • Pigment

    • This is my little shopping spot when we visit the area. It’s the cutest boutique ever with everything from succulents to home decor to baby goods.

  • The Purple Mint

    • If you’re looking for great vegan food, The Purple Mint won everyone over in our group, meat eaters included!

  • Miguel’s Cocina

    • There are a few locations around the San Diego area. We went to the one on Coronado Island, and mmmm was it good!

In Encinitas

  • Barrels and Branches

    • If you’re looking to bring home some new plant friends, I highly recommend coming here! I wanted to bring home every succulent I saw, but only got three (and a crystal too). After we stopped here, we went to Moonlight State Beach and walked along the shore.

  • Lotus Cafe

    • A great place to have lunch! They also offer a wide variety of fresh made-to-order juices, smoothies, and shakes.

I need this stuffed octopus for Olivia! Pigment is just the cutest boutique.

I need this stuffed octopus for Olivia! Pigment is just the cutest boutique.

Plants I wish I could take back home with me from Barrels and Branches.

Plants I wish I could take back home with me from Barrels and Branches.

The cutest little greenhouse at Barrels and Branches.

The cutest little greenhouse at Barrels and Branches.

We had a great time in San Diego. We hope to go back every year to visit family and start a tradition. Olivia grew a lot while we were there and it has been amazing seeing her personality shine through! Also, now she knows that the outside world isn’t always cold and snowy lol.

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Have you been to San Diego? What are your favorite places? I’d love to know for our future trips!


 

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Purchases That Don’t Involve Clipping Coupons

 

Easy tips for saving money.

How to save money

*Links with an asterisk are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase through those links, thank you for supporting Meadow Sweet Lane! xo


When I was 8 or 9, my favorite thing to do on Sunday mornings was to take the advertisements from the Sunday paper, sit on the floor, look through each ad, and clip coupons for the family. I loved it. I did it for years. In fact, I still do when I visit my parents (who still subscribe to the paper newspaper). Looking back, that’s probably one of the reasons I studied marketing in college. Seems like I’ve always had an interest in it!

I also still coupon, although I do it a bit differently today. As a busy mama the only true coupons I usually use are the ones in Cartwheel in the Target app and the occasional Coupons.com printable ones.

I’m always looking for ways to save though! Keep reading to learn some easy ways to save money on your purchases without needing to clip coupons!

5 ways to save money on your purchases that don’t involve clipping coupons

How to save money

Use apps

HONEY*

Honey is probably best known for its browser extension that tests out all available coupon codes for you at the click of a button. No more Googling “[store name] discount code” and trying to find one that works. Honey also makes sure you get the best price on Amazon and gives you Honey Gold (their version of points) that you can cash in for gift cards.

IBOTTA*

Ibotta is a great rebate app! You get cash back on things you actually buy. Just add rebate offers from the store(s) you shop at, purchase the items, scan your receipt, and voilà! Money back! You can transfer your cash to PayPal, Venmo, or gift cards.

Add to cart, but wait a day to fully Check out

If you’re not in a rush, this can be a neat way to get a discount on sites that don’t typically have sales or codes available. Some stores will send abandoned carts a discount via email to incentivize you to purchase. Depending on the store, this might or might not work, but it is worth a try!

Shop end of season sales

End of season sales are great because stores are trying to clear out old inventory to make room for next season, which means discounts for you! Spring/summer merchandise usually goes on clearance in June and July and fall/winter items usually goes on sale in January. I recommend shopping early on during the sales rather than waiting for steeper discounts because items that are popular and/or in your size might sell out fast.

Use Discounted Gift cards (big purchases especially)

RAISE*

If you shop at a certain store a lot, or are planning on making a big purchase, consider buying discounted gift cards. For example, you can buy a J.Crew gift card for $188 that’s worth $200, saving you $12. Or a $470 Hotels.com gift card that’s worth $500, saving you $30! The higher the dollar value of the card is, the more you’ll save.

Sign up for free store rewards programs

The key here is “free”. Some of my favorite loyalty programs are Madewell’s Insider, Nordstrom’s The Nordy Club, and being a Target RedCard holder. If you shop somewhere regularly, this should be an easy way to get discounts!


What are some of the ways you save money on purchases? Comment below!