Party: Glitter Kitty Birthday by Kate Brightbill



What a good, strong number. Five is an age where a child is no longer a tiny, dependent preschooler. Five is the age of learning to tie shoes on their own, reading and writing without mama's help, and ... planning your own birthday parties (if you're Maggie, that's what you do).

Maggie knows her own mind and has her own vision of how things should be done. She is amiable, but is definitely not afraid to speak her mind. She requested a glitter kitty birthday party. She created her guest list (longer than I technically allowed, but we made exceptions, because five is a big number). She also had the following ideas for the flow of things:



  • Serve pizza

  • Serve a kitty cake

  • Have kitty ears for everyone

  • Have a pinata for sure (she wanted a kitty, but it just could not be found or made by me with the time constraints... a unicorn was the approved replacement).

  • Play pin the tail on the glitter kitty (this I did have to DIY, and it was not as simple as it sounds, haha)

  • Let all the girls play dress up and have a ball. A literal ball.




A couple things were REALLY simple: ordering pizza is soooo much better than me making food. Buying a cake at whole foods was wayyyy easier than making or paying out crazy cash for a bakery cake. All I really had to do was a little decorating, and a little furniture re-arranging. 

I bought a couple rolls of inexpensive pink streamers, thinking I'd string them across walls or whatever, but when I pulled them out and looked at the walls, I liked the idea of those streamers making more of a statement, so I taped them in stripes. Double stick tape, perfectly imperfect stripes-- it was a quick process but looked more bold than it would have strung around the ceilings. Our wall is pretty long, so I went and grabbed a third roll to finish it off. 


I did one super-crafty thing, and it was making these little glitter sticks to label the cupcakes. It was a little tedious to cut the whiskers and tiny noses and stick them, so I only did two to label the two types of cupcakes, rather than having one stick in each cupcake. Simple is best more me right now, friends. If you're more of a perfectionist and would want to do like 10 of them for a party, I'd estimate they'd take about 5 minutes each, so close to an hour. I do love them. 

IMG_0039 (1).jpg

-side note: I read a post online about 30 questions to ask your kids rather than "how was your day," and one I loved was "when were you most proud of yourself today?" I think in our efforts to teach our children humility and to be modest, we sometimes overlook the fact that we need to also be teaching them to have confidence in ourselves and our efforts, and that it's okay to feel proud of something we did well! That confidence and pride in abilities will allow children to dream bigger and give them a sense of achievement. //ANYWAY this came to mind because... my proud moments in party decor were these kitties. HA! May this give me confidence to go forth and make more kitties like this in my future? ;)

kitty cake

I didn't photograph the pizza- because- obviously, or the favors, or really even the food setup at all. My 2012 self would have been very disappointed in this, but my 2016 self is like, whatever. It tasted good, I didn't make it (thankfully!) and the kids liked the goodie bags. I did, however, photograph the cake, which received glitter kitty ears and some whiskers made of twisty ties. Simplicity wins. ;)


Brian was a good sport about being surrounded by tutus and squealing girls. He was the deejay, the food orderer, furniture mover (you can't have a couch taking up real estate in the ballroom, obviously), the Jack-holder, and helped with the entertainment factor. That's love.


Maggie at age 5:

  • Favorite Color: PINK

  • Favorite Stuffy: Pink Monster (Maggie's lovie is the great neon pink Octopus that almost said her last farewell at the Oakland Airport this year, were it not for an extra 40 minute drive, and an airport employee who cares enough about a sweet four-year-old with tears in her big blue eyes trying to hold it together- to search a plane and an entire gate thoroughly and against all odds FIND THE MONSTER and become my child's hero).

  • Favorite Ice Cream: STRAWBERRY because it's pink. (it has to be because it's pink, because strawberry ice cream is not that good, let's be honest here).

  • Favorite Princess: SLEEPING BEAUTY because she wears pink

  • Favorite Sports Team: WARRIORS. She can identify players' voices when they come on the radio even. And she thinks we should probably go to Steph Curry's house because he has two sweeties and the girls should probably all get together to play soon.

  • Favorite Thing to Play: Tea Party.

  • Favorite Sport to Play: Soccer.

There you have it. A very similar list of favorites and a birthday party for a happy and bubbly little sunshine girl. A chef, an artist, and a dancer. Can't wait to see what this next year brings for her. xoxo


Past birthday parties around here:


SOPHIE'S 5TH (wishing I was blogging birthdays when she was tinier!)

Thoughts: On School and Change by Kate Brightbill



School is about to start. In three days. My four-soon-to-be-five-year-old is going to kindergarten.

I cried on-and-off all evening yesterday.

My mama heart is feeling a deep desire to keep my baby Maggie tiny. To reverse to the days that school was nowhere in sight and our daily walks were aimless, but so full & meaningful.

Maggie has been by my side for the past five years. She's been my yellow-haired sunshine girl who radiates joy and squeals in laughter the way I've only read about in stories. She has been a delight to my heart during hard moments with her unabashed smile. We have sat beside each other, morning after morning, becoming builders, artists, creators, and princesses with crowns.

She is growing upward and onward, and she is excited about kindergarten. I am excited FOR her, if I'm honest... but I'm still apprehensive about change. I felt this same ache in my heart when I sent Sophie to school for her first day. 

I'm well aware that new challenges- and even adversity- are recipes for growth and character, but it doesn't mean that my mama bear heart doesn't feel every bit of it deeply. I know first hand that little girls are not always kind. I know what it's like when a child is told she isn't wanted as a friend anymore, or that she is not good enough. I want to be there to give her a hug in the moment that she needs it most... when her feelings are hurt or when she falls down. I want to be there to boost her confidence when she is feeling incapable. 


My older daughter has shown me that those challenges and painful moments can be met with endless grace. Grace toward peers being unkind, grace to give second-third-fourth and fifth chances, boosted confidence and assertiveness to say something in the moments that they are needed, the ability to brush off a scrape and recover from hurt. The more challenges, the more opportunity to rise to the challenges and learn from them.

I've also learned that even a delayed hug after school can be sufficient. A stop for a milkshake date and a heart-to-heart can boost sad days. Children are resilient-- they are stronger than I realize and far more capable.

My selfish heart is so sad that my girl is growing up. There's no mincing the truth. I'm already nostalgic for tulle princess dresses and bed-head and tea parties and lego building moments that have not yet passed. Historically speaking, there's a good chance I will cry many more times before Monday, and then again most days next week. The ache is real. 

This summer was full. The year before that and the one before that also full. Full of activity, of life, of beauty, of learning. 

We are grasping our moments, all the good and the bad with it. Though I've had more than a few days of rushing my children toward bedtime, I know through and through that I have savored the moments. And that's a good thing.

So now, onward. Through my tears of nostalgia, I also have pride and confidence. My second-born was created to beam her little sunshine everywhere. 

Here we go. 


Neighborhood Shop: Tea Collection Berkeley by Kate Brightbill


Tea Collection created its first neighborhood shop! Local bay area friends can now shop Tea's beautiful products in person. I'm definitely the type of shopper who appreciates this. Though online shopping is my favorite, I also really like to be able to feel the fabrics and appreciate the prints in person when a new season is released.

StyleSmaller Tea Collection

The fall collection is inspired by Japan. You can read about the inspiration from their travels on the Tea website, which is something so unique and lovely about Tea. There is always a cultural influence, and the influence is not simply imagined... it is experienced by the Tea team as they travel the world to see the destinations for themselves.

Paper cranes in variety of colors in the window. 

Paper cranes in variety of colors in the window. 

The neighborhood shop is lovely, and I found some new favorites while browsing, so I obviously decided to share them with you, as well as 15% off of everything you shop at Tea with the code STYLESMALLER15. (new customers only, ends 9/1/16).

Stay tuned for a Tea Collection giveaway early next week as well! 

Tea Collection Neighborhood Shop @ Kid Dynamo: 2108 Vine Street, Berkeley, CA 

StyleSmaller || Tea Collection #teacollection

onetwothree | four | five | six | seven | eight | nine | ten | eleven | twelve


Thank you to Tea Collection for partnering with me on this post. I receive clothing as a Tea Ambassador. All opinions are my own. 

Post-Vacation by Kate Brightbill


Ahhh, those post-vacation blues. 

I actually LOVE getting back to the groove of reality, and unpacking suitcases and re-arranging drawers. Organizing is my favorite.


Add three kids to the mix, a little jet-lag, and a teeth appointment and then a realization that said teeth appointment is actually tomorrow, rather than today and you woke your sleep-deprived kids up early for... absolutely nothing... and you got a parking ticket for failing to check street signs, and well. You now have yourself a true "back to reality" moment. Yup.

So now that we all know that my A game has gone missing, let me tell you- vacation was worth the loss in productivity brain cells. I think that sometimes, as a mom of three, my brain just begs for a rest. I generally have so many appointments, to-do's, and meal plans on my mind and I cannot bring myself to unwind from it all. I'm actually proud that I've been able to slow down and unwind... even though I did so enough to become far, far, FAR less than the sharpest-pencil-in-the-box.

We repaired the potentially brutal morning snafu with a stop at B. Patisserie (we are back in the land of pink houses and beautiful calorie-packed pastries, after all), and picked ourselves up and made a good day of it. Everything is officially unpacked and almost everything is clean. The clothes in our closets are all in color order, and the books on the shelf are almost back to color order. We played an adorable round of Hedbanz and ate taco salad all together. These things make my world go round, you know? 

Brian predicted that today I would text him "Brian, the first day back from vacation is so hard, but I am SO HAPPY TO BE HOME."

I didn't text him (for principle... don't want to be too predictable), but truth is- he's exactly right. That first day back is unpacking and hurdles of reality and laundry and emotional children, but it is SO GOOD to be home, every time. 


Places We Love: Tutu School < & Tutu Du Monde giveaway> by Kate Brightbill


Ahh, Tutu School, how I love you.

When Sophie was 2, she wanted to be a ballerina. We enrolled her in a local (unnamed) ballet school and did NOT enjoy it. She had sparkle tights, and the school required proper pink tights and black leotards only-- for TWO-YEAR-OLDS. It was strict and classes were cancelled on whims, and our experience was entirely unpleasant... We needed to switch things up asap. I called around and talked to THE sweetest lady over at Tutu School and was basically sold over the phone by what a stark contrast she was to what I currently had.. but still, I wanted to see for myself if it was that good.

StyleSmaller + Tutu School

A totally free, no-strings-attached trial class is offered to any child who wants to get their ballet feet wet at Tutu School. Sophie attended her trial class in sparkly tights and pink slippers, and felt like a princess ballerina from the start. Tutu School gives girls their freedom to express their love for twirling, sparkle, fancy, AND get their start in true ballet fundamentals during their classes. Until children are three, the classes are "mommy (or caregiver) & me," meaning I was also pointing my toes and learning to tendu and pique with my girls (I was sore after more classes than one, ha!). It really IS that good.


Maggie obviously followed closely behind-- as soon as she was old enough to join, she wanted to get in on dancing her little heart out weekly.


Five years later, and both girls are still enrolled in Tutu School. It is THE BEST. They love it with all their heart, and it is their first choice of extracurricular every year. The format adjusts as the little dancers get older. Toddlers have far more free dancing and story time, and prep girls have more time at the bar learning proper balance, technique, and form. 


Tutu School also offers camps and PARTIES. I recently attended a party (actually was honored to co-host!), and they truly make everything they touch special at these parties. The children are engaged with crafting, twirling, and enjoying their refreshments, and the adults can mingle and enjoy themselves and watching their children's eyes shine. 

Tutu School
Tutu School

Side note-- check out those gorgeous plates and cups created by my friends from Harlow and Grey! So pretty!


I cannot keep talking about Tutu School without introducing you to the story behind the operation. Tutu School started on Bay Street in 2008 by my friend Genevieve. She is an amazing woman-- a mother of three boys (including twins!!), a former dancer and a teacher. She recognized that little dancers ages 8 and younger have beautiful imaginations and an appreciation for magical moments, but rarely are ballet classes offered that truly embrace the dreamy ballet experience.

She opened the doors to her San Francisco and Larkspur locations, and two schools have seen countless children come through their programs, wearing tutus of all colors, rainbow tights to sparkly black tights, fancy accessories, and tiaras on a Tuesday morning. It's all allowed and even encouraged.

Genevieve has had so much positive feedback and interest in her school that she was motivated to create a franchising opportunity for Tutu School. Obviously the franchising concept was hugely popular from its start-- it's a business which has appealed especially to mothers who love the idea of taking ownership of a beautiful program, but who don't necessarily want to start at square one. The franchises have taken off, and there are now 14 Tutu School locations! What started as a simple dream of owning a small business is truly blooming into a cross-country operation.

I'm so inspired by Genevieve- who also happens to basically be the same age as me. She put her dreams into action and has created something so beautiful... for herself, for little dancers and their families, and now for other entrepreneurs. 

Genevieve would like to offer the most amazing giveaway today to my readers (I've never wished to be a winner in my own giveaway quite so much, haha!): a Tutu Du Monde dress for a little ballerina, size 4-5, with a crown and a wand.

The tutu is incredible- what dreams are made of. Every inch of the it has unparalleled detailing and beauty. My girls literally gasped when I showed them what it is that one of you can win. This image doesn't even do it justice:



Here's how to win-- each is an entry, but the only thing absolutely necessary to enter is that you leave a comment below letting me know how many ways you have entered:

  1. Follow Tutu School on Instagram
  2. Follow StyleSmaller on Instagram
  3. Like Tutu School on Facebook
  4. Follow Tutu School on Twitter
  5. Pin an image above and tag @tutuschool
  6. Leave a comment below or on IG letting me know how many times you entered and your social media handle(s)! (essential for me to know how many entries I owe you. :)

Giveaway runs from now until Monday, June 20. Winner must be 18 years of age or older and will be chosen at random. I will notify the winner HERE on Tuesday, 6/21 (or by email if you prefer to leave your email in the comments), so be sure to check back!! xoxoxo 


Tutu School Resources:

  • If you're interested in enrolling in classes, check out the locations HERE (top right)
  • If you'd like to enroll in summer camps, check out the schedules HERE
  • If you're interested in a Tutu Birthday Party, find the info HERE
  • If you'd like more info on franchising, please connect with Genevieve HERE

* Classes were offered in exchange for an honest post about the program. I said yes in a heartbeat and all opinions and words are my own. I am so in love with Tutu School and all it offers. xoxo

Tips for Picnics with Kids by Kate Brightbill

It's almost always more appealing for my kids to eat outside vs. inside. It's a simple way to step up a basic lunchtime routine and get them moving. 

Because of all the picnicking we've done lately, I've learned a few lessons about what works and what doesn't work. Here are my tips to picnicking with little ones:

  1. Fair Weather Fans-- Too chilly out? Postpone the picnic! Just do it. Maybe I'm actually just talking to myself, because ahhh, I've pushed the envelope on weather, and I've lost too many times. Spring has this way of looking so gorgeous from the window in our warm home, and then turning the tables when we walk to a park as if in a tundra. Wind is not a picnic's friend. 
  2. Kids can Help-- I find that when I let the kids help pack the food and choose the food, they take ownership of what is in front of them. We always fill our bags and plates with plenty of fruit and some Columbus Salame. Always. If we have some good cheese on hand, that goes in there too, as well as some crusty breads.
  3. Keep it Simple-- I'll be honest: I will plan gorgeous platters overflowing with goodies and set in a pretty way, but really, I need to save that effort for the grown-ups. When we hiked Angel Island on a sweltering hot day, nothing felt better than grabbing directly out of the packaging. No need to set things beautifully. 

Here's a picture of what I set when I was trying to impress the kids. They love setting fancy tables, so I assumed they'd be into it, but when my children are outside, they want to just be OUTSIDE. i.e. not just sitting to eat... They weren't even into the animal sticks! They just grabbed the salame and cheddar and ran to climb trees until they got more hungry. ;) 

This picnic style went WAY better. They grabbed the salame straight from the package, cut the cheese using the one fork we brought, added a cracker to the mix, and straight in their mouths. They were blissfully happy about helping themselves, combining the cheese and salami flavors and deciding combo worked best (their winner was the Crespone with the brie. My winner was the Hot Sopressata with the brie. I wish I knew about that one sooner. I lovvve it and can eat a full package by myself in just a couple days. ;)

My last tip is: if you're picnicking as much as us this summer, don't forget to pack the salame! There are flavors for all the taste buds-- make sure you try Crespone, Hot Sopressata, and Finocchiona (our favs!) that are antibiotic and added-hormone free! 

Good is good and Columbus is the good stuff. Bonus? It's a San Francisco brand. Love the local factor! 


*Post is sponsored by Columbus Craft Meats. All opinions are my own.