Tag Archives: design

Weekend Recap: Surf’s Up

I bet you’re expecting a post about my weekend spent surfing the beaches of California. Or better yet that I caught a big one off the coast of Hawaii and followed it with a delicious dinner of fresh sushi and a fire dance. And perhaps if you strictly based your assumption on my title you could be right. But alas, I’m simply referring to the theme that accompanied my nephew Owen’s 7th birthday party this weekend in sunny yet not exactly coastal Springfield.

surfing birthday party invitation

After a casual 4th of July in the city, I traveled down to Springfield on Friday to spend some time with family and celebrate one of many July birthdays. Per usual, Finn slept the entire way. Adjusting positions from this:

greater swiss mountain dog

to this:

greater swiss mountain dog

Saturday morning I ran what felt like the entire city of Springfield only to come up short on my 12-miler. Bah humbug. I eventually gave up and settled for breakfast and the farmer’s market with my mom. Fortunately that makes up for it every time.

Then it was back home to prep the backyard for the Water World trilogy that would be our afternoon. The snow cone station was set up.

surfing birthday party snow cone station sign

surfing birthday party snow cone station sign

The cupcakes were topped.

surfing birthday party cupcake toppers

And the equipment was tested for water levels and gliding efficiency.

surfing party slip and slide

We had a few minutes to kill before the chaos began so I forced Owen to freeze next to the chalk drawing his mom made. It’s moments like this I can’t believe how grown up he looks.

owen turns 7

And then he gives me a shot like this and I realize he’s still a kid. Whew!

owen turns 7 surfing birthday party simply social blog

And then the boys arrived. 6-10 7 year-old boys. I couldn’t keep count. There were water balloons bursting, snow cones crushing and war screams for the next two hours.

We realized quickly that when it comes to boys, there is no easing into a party. No shy introductions to one another and baby steps towards the water slides. As soon as those kids rounded the corner of the house, the shoes came off, the bags went flying and the airstrike began. I didn’t even try to get any still shots until the 1,000th water balloon was popped. And that only took 25 minutes. You can watch my Instagram video or catch another snippet of the action below.

Owen Turns 7 from Sarah Murphy on Vimeo.

Now you wish you took a nap before that party too, don’t you?

Here are a few stats from the party:

  • 1,000-number of water balloons filled
  • 25 minutes-time 1,000 water balloons lasted
  • 15+-number of snow cones ingested by approximately 7 children
  • 3-amount of dollars it takes to get children to pick up 1,000 water balloon pieces
  • 5-7-slices of watermelon little Evan ate
  • 1-number of cupcake liners Finn cleaned up with his mouth after the party

surfing birthday party simply social blog

surfing birthday party simply social blog

surfing birthday party simply social blog

fruit plate surfing birthday party simply social blog

It’s weekends like this that I feel fortunate to have family and friends close enough to visit often. Most of the time Sometimes the drive to and from Chicago can be monotonous, but being able to experience these milestones first-hand makes the hours spent in the car worth it. Hours that I mostly fill documenting the various positions in which my puppy sleeps.

greater swiss mountain dog sleeps in car simply social blog

must. touch. all. seats.

Speaking of puppies, my Finn joins Owen as he celebrates his 1st (7th) birthday tomorrow. Owen was pretty excited to hear that Finn will no longer be “zero years old” and that they will be the same age for a while. Gotta love dog years.

greater swiss mountain dog

p.s. where did my puppy go?

I hope you are able to ease off the holiday weekend and have a wonderful week. I’d love to hear how you celebrated. Share your comments below. I dare ya.

What’s your favorite 4th of July food? –watermelon for me

Which firework is your favorite? I like the ones that turn into crazy bugs at the end.

Did you have a water-slide party growing up? –sure did. And it’s still among my top 3 parties of all time. Clown cupcakes and all.

Jake and the Captain America Party

This weekend we celebrated my youngest nephew’s third birthday with a Captain America-themed bash. I can’t speak for your family, but birthdays are big in mine. Whether you are turning 2 or 92, each year your birthday is celebrated with cake, presents and the annual telling of the birthday story. Yes, the story is repeated each year without fail. It may seem redundant, but if anyone ever asks me about mine for witness testimony or otherwise, I’m happy to share the details including my Dad’s labor room attempt to try and name me after a Russian gymnast he was watching in the ’84 summer Olympics or that my initially low Apgar scores did NOT inhibit me from the honor roll after all.

captain america birthday party

I’m confident he’ll grow into the mask

Never one to miss a birthday or any party if I can avoid it, we decided to hit the road Saturday morning after I got my long run in. It would be a quick trip but worth it to take advantage of the nice weather our friends to the south had been enjoying all week long (not that I’m bitter or anything). We haven’t had great weather in Chicago this week (once again not bitter), but it was above 30 and dry and I actually thought I overdressed as I hit the first four miles or so.

April (snow) Showers from Sarah Murphy on Vimeo.

Then it started. Snow. And then in worsened. Heavier snow. No wait, that’s more like sleet. Oh hail. That’s a lot of hail. And I’m 5+ miles from home with no other option than to just put my head down and deal with it. And I wasn’t the only one. Each pack of runners I passed shared a head shake and a look of bewilderment with me as we scurried through the unseasonable weather like ants to a picnic. Only this was no picnic, folks. It was miserable. And because I was running solo my only chance at misery loves company was to take incessant amounts of iPhone photos and video to share with my family who was currently enjoying a warm 75 degree Saturday just 3 hours south of me. And so I did.


The last photo in the sequence is back in my neighborhood at mile 10. That’s right. Blue skies and sunshine. Figures. I had a brief chat with a neighbor as I was stretching after and he summed it up nicely.

Are you heading out for a run? What a beautiful day. Looks like you’ll have great weather for it. 

Yes. It does look like that now doesn’t it. ARGH.

It’s amazing how much a little sunshine can lift your mood. Three hours of driving in the sunshine later, we arrived home to a balmy 65 degrees.

Jake’s party was held at a local gymnastics center. This was the same location we had Owen’s 5th birthday and if it were up to me, I’d drop my kids off there every Saturday when the weather was questionable just to let them run like crazies until they passed out. Whoever came up with this idea was genius. And the folks at the facility have a system down. They waste no time getting parties in and out. Two party rooms, 4 time slots each Saturday. Kids arrive, a brief rule set is described and particularly precocious ones listen closely.

captain america birthday party

I’m going to forget everything you said in 3, 2, 1

They line up and march down to Bounce House room for 1 hour followed by 25 minutes in the foam pit. Then its up to the party room for cake and presents for the last 45. Genius. First of all, this time frame fits perfectly with the attention span of three year-olds. They run. They jump. They play. They get all sugared up and crash before they even get home.

Jake’s marks the 10th birthday party my sister and I have thrown over the past few years for the boys. She get’s credit for most of the prep work this time a including saving the banner from Jake’s first birthday to use again. As the older sibling, she’s not one to hoard items like I do. She’s a purger. I have a hard time letting go of things for fear that I might need it for a Halloween costume 5, 6, 7 years down the road. We usually differ in this regard, but since we used similar colors for other parties, saving this banner turned out to be a simple yet nice addition to a blank party space.

captain america birthday party

Add some simple captain-themed cup cake toppers, some thank you tags and you have a quick and easy Captain America Party without a lot of fuss.IMG_3019

And no fuss means more time for play. And funny faces. Note: I highly recommend replacing the word “poop” for “cheeseburger” in attempts to get kids to smile. And judging from the photo below, I’d say Papoo and Jake enjoyed it most. You can clearly see they share a sense of humor. 

Papoo wanted in on the photo

Papoo wanted in on the photo

Once the kids had their fill of foam pit flipping and vinyl bounce house burns, we made our way up to the party room for cupcakes and presents.

captain america birthday party captain america birthday party IMG_3050


Each party goer was sent home with a treat bag filled with popcorn from a local shop, fun party glasses and a kazoo to keep their parents entertained all the way home.

The party was fast and furious but fun nonetheless. Jake confirmed Sunday morning over blueberry birthday pancakes that he did in fact have a good birthday party but that his actual birthday was over Tuesday. Noted. And so with that we enjoyed our last little bit sunshine and a few signs of spring before heading back to the city.


My mom has quite the green thumb

Here’s hoping the only remaining April showers are brief and followed by oodles of sunshine. Have a wonderful week!

You’re Invited

I love parties. And I especially love all of the details that come with them. The joy you get when you open the invitation and get a small glimpse into what the party may or may not be like, the colors, the theme!

NOTE: If you don’t geek out on stuff like this then you may want to stop reading now because it only gets nerdier from here…

If you’re anything like me you love browsing invitation books and web sites for design ideas. And you might be my long-lost twin if like me, you hate the overhead that comes with them. $47 for 15 cards that I then have to buy stamps for and send on my own? And don’t even get me started on square vs. rectangular postage restrictions! Oh the post office sorter machine isn’t set for square envelopes? Well, that would have been good to know a month ago. Oh, an extra $25 in postage will fix that? Ok then. Or how about the design factor? I like that design but I really like this one too. Can’t I just have them mate and mail out their offspring?


Each time I’m faced with getting invites out for a party or event, I always question whether others will appreciate the effort that goes into receiving a mailed invitation. But then there’s that little voice inside of me that chimes in,

‘But it’s a printed invitation Sarah. Something tangible. Something that might brighten their day amongst the junk mail. Remember the joy Sarah, Remember!’


Damn you heart, you win again.

The purpose of this post is to let you know you don’t have to settle for big box invitations. Although I do think that companies like Tinyprints, Target, Shutterfly and the like have wonderful options, many of which I’ve used in the past, these are also great resources for finding a starting point for your own custom invitations. You know, so you avoid situations like the time you showed up to the prom in the same dress as a freshman…not that that ever happened to me or anything.

Jake_invite_green copy

And I’ll also tell you that you don’t have to know a lot about design or have fancy software to get started. While photo editing software like Photoshop can help and InDesign is great for laying out pieces, I have laid out a number of invitations in Microsoft Publisher, mostly for its compatibility and quick edits if you are working on it for a friend or client. There are also a few free software options out there if you’re in a pinch and don’t want to spend the money on the real thing. Gimp is a good substitute for Photoshop and Scribus for InDesign.

carnival_invite copy

While the party theme doesn’t necessarily have to match the invite, I like to pull elements from the piece (color palette, background pattern, font types) and bring them in throughout the party to tie it all together. From signage to food and candy, it’s an easy way to bring the theme through to the actual day.

Now that I see a sample of all of the invites from last year, I realize I have some retroactive posts to write. From baby showers to birthday parties, it was a year filled with joyous celebrations and I feel very lucky to have been a part of each and every one.

Have a great week!