I'm back from my Bar Mitzvah Cruise

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bottom line it was perfect and amazing.   Everyone had fun. The weather was great. The Bar Mitzvah boy rocked the torah!

I'm exhausted but here are a couple of shots (my blog is anonymous so you don't get any faces sorry:(

This was the first night. There was a special full moon and the seas were smooth. Those are my new favorite shoes (floggs)

Here is part of the ceremony. Great location. Great weather

The reception area....

It would not be a cruise without a towel animal photo!

 My swag bags had to be carried on by us! I think other passengers thought that this was our carry on luggage. How classy!  We stuffed them in my trusty old IKEA bags.  We camped out in the lobby and handed the swag off to the guests as they boarded. (The swag bags were a hit!)

I will write more details after I relax from my vacation! 

My new true love..

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I  interrupt my Bar Mitzvah planning craziness to introduce my new true love. The Flogg.

The Flogg is a hybrid between a clog and a flip flop and are the hottest new shoe around. These things are flying off the shelves here in Miami. So much, that the store that I tried them on in did not have my size in black so I had to order them online.

These babies are not only high heels but seriously comfortable. As I've bitched and moaned  blogged about incessantly on this blog , I injured the joint in my foot over thanksgiving and have been on a quest for comfortable, yet  chic shoes.  I think that they do exist. These have a nice thick footbed so they are really easy on the injury.

I just bought this pair and will road test them on the cruise. I wore them around my house (up and down the stairs 20 times) today and they were like heaven so I 'm thinking they are going to be perfect.  If they are, I'm seeing more Floggs in my future this summer.  I'm already lusting after these...

By the way, this is an unsolicited, uncompensated rave review of these shoes. I just know that these are the next big things and wanted to share my opinion 

My out of town guest bags....

Monday, May 20, 2013

The big day is rapidly approaching and my out of town guest bags are complete. (We are going on  a cruise so everyone is an out of town guest)

They were a labor of love but they turned out really well. They are loaded and overstuffed. We have to have a friend drive them down to the port as our luggage and the bags won't fit into my SUV without smushing them!

So here are the masterpieces...

The bag is a woven raffia/ paper. It is really light weight and has two open pockets on the front. It zips across the top. The logo was from a graphic designer on Etsy. It was transferred onto the bags. I attached a laminated personalized luggage tag with a ribbon. 

I loaded the bags to the gills with all of this swag...

 The swag included an organza bag full of gourmet-ish, beach friendly snacks.  In my opinion, organza bags always make things (even Swedish fish) seem fancier. These are jumbo sized and I purchased them on ebay from a seller who only sells organza bags. Who knew that was a viable business model?

Here are the contents of the snack bag, which includes Pirate's Booty, any type of fish candy that I could source and my chocolate cruise ships which were a total pain in my bootie.

Here is a little pencil case which I thought would be helpful to throw in a beach bag. It is not waterproof but heavy duty and water resistant.

 Inside, there is a mesh bag which is perfect for toting back sandy or wet stuff from the beach and to take laundry home from the cruise. There is also sunscreen, spf lip balm and a fab hair tie in it.

One of my favorite parts about cruising is that it is far too expensive to text or use cell phones. This means, we will back to old fashioned writing to tell each other where we are. The note on top of this cute memo board says "Leave a note so your cabin mate knows where you are... (Unless you don't want to be found)". It has an attached marker and eraser and a ribbon holder.

I sourced giant scarves/sarongs at a boutique.   These are the perfect weight for summer and can be worn as scarfs, shawls, dresses or skirts. I included a little paper which shows ways to tie it. I threw in an organza bag so it is like a little sarong kit! I got several different colors/patterns so we won't all look like twins.

I found these cute rubber horns which are ipod/iphone speakers. Great for tunes in the cabin or by the pool!

I also bought beaded bracelets and clutches at the merchandise mart. The bracelets are all different and the clutches are different colors. These were the least colorful in the bunch but much prettier in person.

I added personalized t-shirts and baseball hats for the men and kids. I have extra in case any of the ladies really want them. I know this crowd and they probably don't. Hint: The prices for personalized t-shirts and hats were all over the place. I checked online and at a bunch of local places. The place that I ended up using is a pretty big local business that  specializes in personalized  t-shirts. They use good quality and offered a small discount if we paid in cash. If you need to print up swag in the future, I would suggest really shopping around. Some of the places that I got quotes from were more than double.

I also have my amenity kits

I've included the contents of the kits underneath this post.

I also included the cute personal note from the guest of honor.

The gift bags  are all sealed in huge clear gift basket bags and ready to go. The kids get different bags. I will try to post about those tomorrow

Appendix: Contents of amenity kit.

Crazy Mom Time....

Friday, May 17, 2013

1. I am one week away from the Bar Mitzvah. I am obsessed with my swag bags and about to embark on making four dozen chocolate cruise ships from chocolate molds that I purchased from a chocolate company website. The funny thing about this is that , if you know me, the idea of me making shaped molded chocolate is so outside my usual hobbies and interest. I don't cook. I rarely bake. I'm not really crafy. I guess that I am cheap. The local fancy chocolate place wanted $5-8 bucks a piece and I decided that I can make them. Between the practice lessons, the molds and the chocolate, I am probably spending more but there is no turning this ship around. (pun intended). I will certainly report back with photos once I am done playing Willy Wonka.

2. My son, the bar mitzvah boy, still does not have an outfit for the big day. We are doing the ceremony on the beach and I want him in a white linen shirt. My husband would like to help pick this out because my fashion sense for men runs more preppy than he likes. I attended prep school and my teenaged years were during the height of the preppy scene. I like preppy on boys and men. My husband hates preppy. I digress. The fact that my son does not have anything to wear at his Bar Mitzvah which is in one week is the equivalent of a bride not having the dress in my crazy mind. My husband has promised that he will all go shopping on Sunday and not return home without Bar Mitzvah clothe for all men in this house. Until then, stay out of my way.

3. I attended the high school's PTA installation luncheon today. It was a lovely gathering at a local restaurant and honored the outgoing officers and the incoming officers. When I agreed to be the secretary next year, I did not realize that this was such serious business. I was the only freshman mom being sworn in with a real oath (like girl scouts) and felt like I was pledging a sorority again.  I really hope that this is not going to be too much work. I told my husband and one of my best friends that if I ever mention wanting to hold any other office in the PTA to call 911 and have me committed to the hospital.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One of my best friends tested positive for the breast cancer gene mutation (BRCA1)  two years ago. She had the testing because both of her Grandmothers had died of breast cancer.  She was scared to get the test but she did it. She was 39 at the time and had two sons in middle school at the time.

Once the results came in showing that she had the gene, like Angelina Jolie, she was told that it was way more likely than not that she would get breast or ovarian cancer.  She could not live life in fear so she made the difficult decision of undergoing a double mastectomy and reconstruction as well as having both of her ovaries removed.  

People with the BRCA1 gene mutation, can't fight off certain cancers the same way that people with "normal" BRCA genes do. Some people with the mutation have up to an 87% chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer.

When she told many people about her decision to have this radical "elective" surgery, they were confused. "Why would she mutilate her cancer free body?", they asked. 

She felt obligated to tell her relatives about the results of the testing so that they could decide whether or not to have the test. One of her Uncles forbid her from telling his college-aged daughters. One of her Aunts told her that she was "inviting trouble" by even having the testing. 

People, especially some of the people that are supposed to love her the most, did not understand that my friend, like Angelina Jolie, wanted to up her chances of living to see her children grow up. That by taking their medical care in their own hands, they were not waiting for cancer to creep in, they took away the welcome mats.

My friend had a year of grueling surgeries and is now in early menopause. But she is healthy and can sleep at night knowing that she has one less thing to worry about. It is not a guarantee that she won't get some type of disease, but 87% is gone and that is good.   I'm very happy that gorgeous Angelina went public with her decision. Education is a good thing. Had this happened sooner, my friend might have had an easier time dealing with her relatives. 

I walked with my friend in October in the Race for Cure. I was so happy that she was not in the survivors parade and we could watch is together with all of her curly hair. I was happy that our sons walked with us and saw how breast cancer affects way too many families. Hopefully with more research and education, we can say goodbye to cancer for good someday. 

More swagger to my swag bags...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sorry if you've been in suspense. I'm less than two weeks away from the big event and I've been crazy busy.  I wanted to include amenity kits in my swag bags for my cruise guests, but I did not want them to look too craft-projecty.  I wanted them to look like something that I would be excited to see in my stateroom.

I  wrote about the stickers that I made (yes craft project-y) but here is how the final product turned out....

The box is the clear amac box from the container store. It is 3 7/16 square by 6 5/16" tall. They were not cheap but look really nice. Way nicer than anything else I could find.

This is a blurry shot of the top of the box. I promise it looks better in person. 

Now here is what is inside. I have been hunting and gathering stuff for these bags for months so I don't have a running total of what the total cost was and I don't want to know. Neither does my sweet husband who reads my blog !

Cute tissues (target), Adorable girl tweezer , mini lint roller with a cute label (target) Flower nail file
 Little mirror with one side magnifying and one size regular mirror (michael's)

You can't see from the package, but these band-aid have pirates on them. (Amazon), Hand Cream (target) Hand- Santizer and mini flash-light with logo sticker on them. (Dollar tree) As a side note, you should always have a flashlight on you when you travel. If there is a power failure on your ship or in the hotel it is a handy thing to have! 
 Sewing kit (Michaels) and mini advil and wipe

 Chic sleep mask (michaels) and ear plugs! 

I love the results. I will try to post some of the rest of the swag soon! 

Swag Swag Swag...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

I'm still working on my cruise swag bags. If you want to catch up go here, and here.

They are coming along quite nicely but once again, if you, the reader are my sister, please stop reading now. Everyone else, here are a couple of more glimpses...

The group is over 40 people but other than t-shirts and hats, I really had trouble finding personalized items in small quantities  at normal prices. Sure you can get personalized tote bags for $30 each, but I wanted to make overstuffed bags with tons of stuff in it to make my guests feel pampered so I had to do a lot of it myself.

Here is a card that will go in every bag. The front features the guest of honor on a past vacation. I made them on Shutterfly and they came out so well. Very professional. Easy to do and affordable (about $1 per card)

In addition to the adult totes, I had to make 12 kids totes for the under 18 crew.  Once again, I could not source a bag that I liked in a small amount via traditional wholesale sites,  so I turned to eBay.  

As with a few of the things in the bags, I found what I wanted on ebay and asked the seller if they would give me a quantity discount. I was able to source the string backpacks below, lanyards and iphone speakers by asking ebay sellers to give me a wholesale discount. In addition, for some of the swag for the ladies, I asked in a boutique if they would give me a discount for quantity and they did.  So the moral of the story is that even if you are not spending hundreds of dollars, if you need a dozen or so items for a party, you can still be considered a "wholesale" buyer. 

I got these string backpacks for way less than they are selling in the stores. They have a nice mesh pocket on the front and the quality is good. 

I decided to personalize them only by attaching a Sam's Crew Personalized Luggage tag which I made myself as I own not one,but two laminators. I own them because I bought them on separate occasions at Costco because I thought that I needed to laminate something.  I'm so happy that they finally got used. The tags have each kid's name on the back so that we can figure out they belong to on the beach. The luggage tag can easily be removed after the trip and the kids can use them for camp.


Swag Bag Part 2...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I've gone sticker crazy. I wanted to order glossy shaped-stickers with my logo but the cost to make them was more than one ticket for the cruise itself so I figured out how to make them myself! I'm not the craftiest girl so this is very exciting to me. I also don't want these swag bags to look like a craft project gone bad so I'm super excited.

First of all, I took the logo and printed it out on a sheet of paper. I tried to use my printer to print out on glossy paper but it smudged. I took the glossy paper to office depot and for 8 cents a sheet, they copied them for me. The pages don't smudge.

I then cut out the logo and ran them through my xyron 500 sticker maker.  I bought this one sale years ago and never used it. I bought it because I thought the kids could use it for school, but of course, it has sat unused.

The sticker maker puts a permanent adhesive backing on any sheet of paper. It is a fickle little machine but did the trick. I love the results and now want to put my logo stickers on everything! Uh oh.

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