bing’s steamboat willie bash

Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party

Seeing how it’s been almost 4 months since Bing’s 2nd Birthday Party, I thought I would get around to posting it. Feeling like a complete mom failure here, but it was one kick butt bash. (If I do say so myself.)

Never in a million years did I think that a Mickey Mouse theme party would be in my future. Don’t get me wrong, if anyone loves “the mouse” it’s me. I mean, he was basically my boss at one point. (A good one at that.) Plus I am obsessed with every and all things Disney. So yeah, it makes sense.

Buuuut Mickey Mouse theme parties are a dime a dozen which is totally a stigma I shy away from. Bing though, he loves Mickey. And I LOVE that he loves Mickey. Then it dawned on me – we didn’t have to go classic red, yellow, black. We can totally ear up and do this Steamboat Willie style. And that is what we did.

Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse PartyAt first I thought it might be a little depressing to do an all grey, black, white 2nd Birthday party. Especially for a little boy with such a big and bright personality. It was however the complete opposite of depressing. All the glistening silver in the summer sun….it made me feel sooooo happy inside.

Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party The “Fuel Dock” consisted of hot dogs and tacos. My foodie friend claimed it was some of the best party food she had ever had. I will never forget that because the food quite frankly turns me into a nervous wreck. What a blessing it was to hear those words for a party planner who frets the most about bellies being full and happy.Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse PartySteamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party This was my first go at a “candy bar” and it won’t be my last. So cute and easy plus kids of all ages absolutely loved it.Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse PartyThere are so many details from this one that I am thrilled with…but the vintage Willie and Minnie ears may be my favorite. I love that you can purchase cheap ears from Ebay and transform them into any kind of Mickey/Minnie combo you would like. It took some time to make them, but so worth it!

Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse PartyOf course since there were ears there had to be a photo booth. I mean who makes mini steamboat caps and vintage Minnie hats out of felt and pipe cleaners without a photo booth? Not me!

Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse PartyA few iPhone shots of the party goers:


As we all know, the creme de la creme of any and all birthday parties is the person you are celebrating. Our Bingham, in those ears, blowing at his two little candles….oh, I can barely take it. Forever and always my favorite part of a birthday celebration.

Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse Party Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse PartyBing, you are our sunshine on the gloomiest of days. Never stop loving so hard sweet boy…it’s my absolute favorite thing about you. (With those eyes being a close second.)

Once again, thank you to my family and friends for making this one amazing bash! I honestly could not do this without guys!


Brandy J




Invitations & Party Designs –

Cake – CakeCrazy

Cookies – Flour Loves Sugar

Candy, Straws, Napkins, Cups, Tablecloths, Fringe Background – Amazon

Large Print Printing – VistaPrint

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diy chip & joanna gaines costumes

Everyone’s favorite home improvement couple also happens to be one of the easiest costumes you can throw together! In fact, you probably have almost everything you need in your closest as we speak. We did (except for the dark temporary hair dye):

chip and joanna gaines costumesJoanna:

  • grey tee
  • military jacket
  • jeans
  • cute booties
  • minimalist yet earthy bracelet/necklace
  • long dark hair (temporary hair dye or wig comes in handy here)
  • work gloves


  • tee and open flannel
  • jean
  • work boots (we did not have those so we went with Converse)
  • sledge hammer (Bing cannot lift a real one so we made ours out of an empty wrapping paper roll and duct tape.)
  • shaggy light brown hair and scruff (Bing literally has Chip hair, we added the scruff with makeup.)

Other great additions:

  • white ship lap
  • paintbrush
  • tool belt for Chip
  • hoop earrings for Joanna
  • basically anything you see on the show that Joanna is obsessed with

I can’t get over how cute my kiddos look as Chip and Joanna! I mean….GAH! That said, I think this costume would be even better for an adult couple (you know, people who actually know who Chip & Joanna are).

If you happen to use this idea don’t forget to tag #ppjhalloween. And if you don’t, hashtag anyways because I LOOOOOOVE to see all your amazing costumes!

Less than 2 weeks till Halloween! EEEK!


Brandy J





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candy popcorn cookies

Candy Popcorn CookiesI have been making Smitten Kitchen’s popcorn cookies for quite sometime now. They are a “Brandy” favorite – my family enjoys them as well, but no one appreciates the salt, the butter, the crunch quite like me.

As fall approached I began wanting to add more to this cookie (which is already perfection so I totally realize I’m walking on thin ice here). Love it or hate it candy corn screams October…and popcorn laced with white chocolate is never a bad idea. The combo of the 3 make for a cookie that is worthy of any harvest party.

Candy Popcorn CookiesA note on the candy corn – they do not do well on the bottom of the cookie. They will burn before the cookie is done baking, not good. This is why you want to place those bad boys on the top – right before baking.

Of course if candy corn repulses you, burnt or otherwise, feel free to leave them out. Peanuts would make an excellent replacement. (I’m totally trying that next time.)

Candy Popcorn Cookies Candy Popcorn Cookies

There is something about the way these look. Like my Halloween as a youth when people handed out homemade popcorn balls and candy. I can almost see 7 year old me, fully costumed, chowing down on one of these with a paper cup full of cider.  (And a first place “costume contest” ribbon of course, because my mom kicked major ass in the costume making department.)
Candy Popcorn Cookies Candy Popcorn CookiesCrisp edges, tender centers….buttery, crunchy, sweet bites. This cookie is unique and totally familiar all at once.


Brandy J



candy popcorn cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24 cookies
  • ½cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅓cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1½cups flour
  • ¾tsp baking soda
  • 3 to 3½cups popped popcorn (buttered with 1tbsp butter and lightly salted)
  • 1cup white chocolate chips
  • 1cup candy corn
  1. Preheat oven 350ºF. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Cream brown sugar, granulated sugar and softened butter on a high speed with a hand or stand mixer for 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Mix flour and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add to wet mixture in ⅓rds, until completely incorporated.
  3. Gently fold in the white chocolate chips and popcorn. It will seem a little odd - a lot of popcorn, little dough - but keep gently folding until it's incorporated. (Popcorn will break some and that's okay!)
  4. Using a medium ice cream scoop (about 2tbsp), place dough 2" apart on the prepared baking sheet. Push 3 to 4 candy corns into each ball. Try to push them in as much as possible without penetrating the bottom of the ball. Bake for 6 to 9 minutes or until bottoms begin to turn gold. Cookies will seem raw, but allowing them to bake on cookie sheet for 5 minutes out of oven will be perfect! After this, transfer to a wire rack and allow cookies to cool. Store an an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
If candy corn is not your thing simply omit them! Peanuts would be a good addition as well!

Candy Popcorn Cookies

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him and her ball caps

mom_son_rainy_day_1It’s not often anymore that we take the time for a style post shoot, but when we do we make sure to find a side road with gobs of trash cans.

(Yes, I am a photographer. Went to school for it everything. What can I say…I like trash cans.)

Really though, this is us walking to a new coffee shop. I figured if I am being real about what I am wearing on a rainy Saturday, than I might as well be real about where I am wearing it.

Plus Bing is cute so you forget all about those cans.

mom_son_rainy_day_2 mom_son_rainy_day_3You guys, I feel so boring of late. What you see is about as stylish as it gets for me. Jacket, jeans, t-shirt, hat and boots – nothing more, nothing less. Yes, I know it’s not that frumpy of a look, and I also know those pieces can be mixed up, but the reality is I am almost always in my momiform.

Half of me feels great about this while the other is feeling forgotten. “Obsessed with all things fashion” Brandy is getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror of life. I am not sure how to digest all of this and quite frankly, I sometimes want to put the car in reverse and throw some damn heels on.

Here’s the deal as far as I can tell…Bingham equals game changer. The second kid I tell you, he knocked my socks off. All the “spare” time I had with one child is now not enough for two. (Of course, I also look at gorgeous, perfectly toned moms on Instagram with their 5 kids, impeccable homes and amazing fashion sense and think WHAT THE HELL???!! I am convinced they own ewoks, oompa loompas or minions – you know, a tribe of small and helpful creatures. That’s the only explanation.)

That Bing of ours though, the dashingly handsome – lovable second child, also equals a whole lot of happiness that we never knew we needed. It goes without saying that I’d wear a potato sack everyday if it was a requirement for him to be ours.

Ultimately, it’s okay that I am in a momiform most of the time, and it’s okay to miss the heels. I would like to find “the middle” of these two extremes in small bursts throughout my week though. Feeling good about myself physically is huge – so eating right and staying on track with workouts is vital. I also need more date nights…LOTS more. Lastly, and this is a big one for me, I need to dress up more often, even if I am working from home. Something I used to be good at but have gotten a little lazy about the last year. I don’t feel so great if I’m in comfy clothes for a few days in a row. I need to throw on a dress and a pair of tights and make my husband think I am going somewhere other than to the grocery or picking up kids.

With all this said…there is a fondness I have with my “momiform”. Most days I will probably stick to it – mixing pieces in and out as best I can. Those heels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. (Please don’t tell me feet grow as a person ages though…)

mom_son_rainy_day_4 mom_son_rainy_day_5 This last one is not exactly the best pic but I had to throw in one of how most of the images look. Me, with my mouth open, trying to get a grumpy two year old to be happy. We do what we can, right?mom_son_rainy_day_6BRANDY jacket similar/t-shirt Target/jeans similar/hat similar/boots Hunter BING shirt similar/pants H&M/shoes Converse/hat similar

In case you noticed..Bing needs rain boots. Total unprepared parent moment. Those happen. (To me a lot.)


Brandy J

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diy michael phelps, nicole & boomer costume

Looking for a super easy, super fabulous, super 2016 Halloween costume???? Well you can call off the search. I, and one kick-butt (willing) couple, are proud to present Michael Phelps, his fiancé Nicole and Boomer Phelps.

Gosh I love Halloween.

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes

Here is what you are going to need:

Michael Phelps:



  • baby doll (unless you have a real baby)
  • white onesie
  • navy track pants
  • white duct tape (to wrap around the next item you need – the domes)
  • styrofoam domes (Cover domes in tape, hot glue to each side of baby’s head. Do not do this on a real baby. You can either purchase white headphones and attach star stickers or purchase the real Boomer headphones here.)
  • black ribbon (Band for headphones. Hot glue to the inside of each dome.)
  • star stickers (To attach to headphones and baby wrap.)
  • 1.5 yards of red stretchy fabric, cut in half lengthwise and attached by sewing or hot glue on one end of each piece together, making one lone length of fabric. (This is for the baby wrap. Learn how to tie wrap here. Attach white stars to front after wrapped. If using a real baby please use an actual -safe- baby wrap.)


Of course it helps to have killer looks and personality like these two:
DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesGame face. Nailed it.
DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes Kelly is actually blonde. (A smoking’ hot one.) Can you believe how much she looks like Nicole??!!DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes What Olympic dreams are made of!DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesLucky for me, Kelly and Adam brought along their wonderful children. Who also happen to have eager participation type attitudes. (My favorite kind of people.) I can’t get over these four. They are so awesome!

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesFamily goals!

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesAnd of course we can’t forget Boomer…the most laid back baby I have ever photographed.

DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer CostumesA HUGE THANK YOU to Adam, Kelly, Sofia and Sam! I knew you guys would rock this out but I had no idea you’d make my Halloween costume dreams come true!!!! Thank you for being so freaking fantastic! A million times THANK YOU!

Alright you guys, the Halloween posts have begun! Don’t forget I want to see YOUR take on Halloween. Whether it’s decor or costumes, tag #ppjhalloween on any and all social media. You have no idea how happy it makes me to see your posts! So keep the coming! Cheers to Halloween! EEK!!!

Brandy J





DIY Michael Phelps, Nicole & Boomer Costumes
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