Favorite Things Party - 2017 Edition


One of the most popular blog posts of My Life at Playtime has been How to Host a Favorite Things Party. And I love it! I love that so many find themselves here from Pinterest and googling how to throw a favorite things party, and ideas of what to get as their favorite thing. Since it's been awhile I decided it would be fun to share some 2017 highlights from a recent Favorite Things party. 

A girlfriend and I decided to throw it a bit last minute and just crossed our fingers our friends would be in town. We split the guest list and got to work planning around our favorite things, which happened to be pink, a fun British cocktail that my co-host rocked, and the most delicious food we could put together! Who doesn't love girlfriends, yummy food, a delicious themed cocktail, and presents? Sign us up!

I got to work on my charcuterie board skills and was quite pleased with the end result. For reference I had rosemary sprigs as accents throughout the board(s), since I ran out of space for one board, we had 2. I served white truffle salami (everything by the way can be found at Trader Joe's), caper berries, truffle almonds, dried figs cut in half, fresh grapes, rosemary crackers, mini pickles(forget the proper name), potato chips, raw almonds, olives, and satsuma oranges. It was delicious if I do say so myself. Some of the other appetizers we prepared and others friends brought to share include:

  • caprese salad
  • lentil dip with chips
  • roasted gorgonzola on baguettes
  • humus and crudite platter
  • guacamole
  • shaved brussel sprout salad 
  • assorted cheeses and crackers
  • meringue and marscapone
  • homemade cookies
  • 3-ingredient fudge which I will have to share in another post
  • and MORE!



For our cocktail of the night we had Pimm's which apparently is a proper British drink, often served during an afternoon watching Wimbledon. So of course we served it! To make at home you might want to double check my amounts, but I'm guessing equal parts Pimm's and either sparkling lemonade or Sprite. Cut up strawberries, cucumbers, mint and oranges and add ice in a big pitcher. In separate cups we garnished them with smaller pieces of fruit on the cutest pink flamingo drink stirrers. They were DEElicious!

An easy list of supplies for our drinks, plates and serving ware:


And now for the presents! The first photo is what I gave as my favorite things. I went with multiple items this year as opposed to my usual one item. Our item max this year was $15 (x3), so here's how it broke down:

  • french farmers market tote-  $22 for set of 6 which breaks down to $3.66 a piece
  • Mrs. Meyers hand soap- $3.79 I found the special Peppermint edition at Target and got 5% off with my redcard
  • Rodial Dragon's Blood Lip Mask- this is where I cheated a tiny bit because I get these at a discount because of my job, I got them for $5.60 a piece
  • Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Caramels- $1.99
  • TOTAL: $15.04 and I don't count tax or wrapping so there, I made it :)

One of the funnest parts of these parties is learning about your friends and seeing what they come up with to gift. Part of the challenge is sticking to the budget and having it reflect who you are. A few of the gifts we shared...

  • homemade spice mix with stainless salad tongs (I can't find the exact match of the tongs, but these are close)
  •  mug and tea set
  • linen spray
  • glass water bottle- similar here, and $5 gift card to favorite donut/coffee shop
  • swiss army knife in a cute Ikea bag with a See's chocolate bar
  • Favorite jam with a $10 gift card to Eataly
  • bag filled with favorite food items like coffee creamer, la croix, snack items, chocolate treats, etc.
  • Dominoes Set
  • Nordstrom giftcard
  • car essential oil diffuser 
  • cooking trivets
  • Lush bath goodies
  • essential oils
  • Candle and bath salts
  • and I know I am forgetting others! All so creative and awesome, everyone left happy with their new found goodies and knowing more about each other. 

Now go host your own party, and if you need instructions on how the party works, see this post

See Ya 2017! Ready for 2018...


2017 was packed with so many memories and changes. At the start of the year I said that travel was on the horizon as we are in this sweet spot with our family And I'm so happy we made it a priority for 2017. 

At the very end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 we managed to see our first National Park of the year: Grand Canyon, and also beautiful Sedona and Flagstaff on an epic Arizona road trip. We squeezed in a second ski trip to Big Bear. We hit up our second National Park in April, Joshua Tree, and had a dream photo shoot there which kicked off our Joshua Tree themed 17th anniversary celebration which concluded with U2's Joshua Tree concert. We managed to camp not once but twice this summer. Our first camping adventure took us to not one but TWO more National Parks, Kings Canyon and Sequoia, which brought our family's National Park total up to SEVEN. We renewed our passports in the knick of time (3 days to spare!) and traveled out of the country to Costa Rica. We also enjoyed Greta's graduation from elementary school. Gunnar not only began his first job, got his driving permit, and turned 16(!) but he also moved to a new high school which  has paved the way for his brother and sister to eventually go to the same high school. He's knocking it out of the park there and I couldn't be prouder. Aaron and I also snuck away for a last minute work conference to Vegas, and we had family time in Ojai this past November.

Phew, no wonder I'm tired. Before I began this post I thought maybe I won't be able to share much, or maybe we didn't do enough as a family, but we did! We are finishing 2017 with some not so fun things as well, like nursing a head cold for me and tenting our home for termites. But to look on the bright side, our fridge, freezer, pantry, and bathroom cabinets have never looked so shiny and clean. 

I also feel like this year I was very intentional and deliberate with my time, which feels really good. I made positive choices for my family and my marriage. I wasn't in this space that often, and I slowed down a lot on social media, but it all just felt right. I made videos for our family this year, and shared a couple of them here, and here. I actually still have a few more to share from the year that I may post later. 

I was able to print our 2017 family photo album and also made 2016's as well. When I went to put together this year's photos I realized I never completed last year's! So I am all caught up. I also archived all of our videos and photos and have a system I am pretty happy with now for safely securing our digital files. We updated our earthquake/disaster bags, and made copies of all our important papers. I lost AND then found my jewelry box, phew (sometimes my hiding places are just too good). We entertained A LOT and hosted parties and anniversaries and dinners. 


Thinking about 2018 and what's in store for our family...I will have one kid with a driver's license soon, a second kid starting high school, which leaves just one left in middle school. We are entering new phases as parents where we are going to bed earlier than our kids, we are having to wait up for them, and we have really beautiful, deep conversations with them. It's a good phase, an exhausting one but in a new and different way. 

Some goals that I have for 2018:

  • Simplify. With the purging and cleaning we did for termite tenting, I can see how good it feels and how much lighter we are when we get rid of the unnecessary clutter. Less for me to clean around and keep track of. I firmly believe a cluttered space causes a cluttered mind. 
  • More travel. It felt so good to visit new places as a family. I want to travel to the east coast (which is in the works already), camp more, and next winter have an epic winter vacation. Also I would love to fit in a few quick weekend trips throughout the year.
  • Make healthy choices. I want to be more intentional with my own health, like taking vitamins regularly, exercise consistently, and eat whole foods more. 
  • Plan more family adventures. Lately the kids' social schedules have left me feeling a little disjointed and disconnected. And I want to spend quality time with them. Maybe some Sunday afternoon hikes, or beach trips, or more bike rides. 
  • More date nights with Aaron. I feel like it's in the cards for us to be more regular with this since we can take advantage of our kids' being busy and them getting older. 
  • Movies. I did not see enough movies in 2017. I love movies.
  • Barbecue. I know that sounds silly, but we have to repair our barbecue! And my goal is to complete it in time for summer so we can have lots of outdoor barbecues. 
  • Books! I read only 5-6 books this ENTIRE year. I want to read more novels, non-fiction, historical, you name it. Give it to me. 

What about you? Have you thought about the things you're looking forward to in 2018?

Link Love


Happy Friday friends! We are busy over here flying through the final days of 2017. We've had some home repairs to repair some termite damage, next up is painting and then tenting to get rid of those buggers. Talk about not fun and expensive! But it's good to have peace of mind that we are getting this all taken care of the right way. 

Isn't that such a peaceful photo above? My heart broke watching the fires engulf those hills in the background of such a beloved place in Ojai. I am so sad for the communities affected by these wildfires. It impeded us such a little, poor air quality, and Gunnar had school closed for 3 days. Nothing compared to what so many have experienced. 

A few things I think you might find interesting too:

I posted about this magazine on my IG stories awhile back, but just discovered you can read it online. Such timely articles for those of us raising kids these days. This particular issue my dad saved for me to read. Go read it. It's hard but important. 

My bedside table has this book on top of it right now, a friend loaned me it and it's so interesting. I loved all the Malcolm Gladwell books back in the day, and this really reminds me of those. 

I add a tablespoon of this daily to a cup of tea. I've been taking it for a few months now and have just started to notice a difference in my hair. I've been getting compliments on my skin too, but I've been also using this tool regularly for a few weeks. So maybe all the things are finally working, haha. 

I found this article, lengthy but so interesting. Kind of depressing for those who have fallen into this cycle. 

Hoping you all have a wonderful weekend! And if you have kids that are starting their winter break, yay for sleeping in and no packed lunches! Boo for messy houses, too much screen time and sibling fights. :)