Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Number Centerpiece DIY

Pinterest is probably the best. I'm hooked. As you all know, I've been planning my son's first birthday for a while now and have really turned to Pinterest for inspiration.

A while back I came across a pin from A Smith of all Trades, for a yarn wrapped "S." I was inspired. 

I have known for a while that I wanted to do something with the number 1, since it's a first birthday, and so I decided to make a giant number one for a centerpiece to go on the food table.

Here is how it went down...

Supplies:

  • 1 large box
  • 2  pieces of card stock
  • duct tape
  • Xacto knife or scissors
  • ruler
  • wrapping paper (optional)
  • KRYLON glitter blast spray in "silver flash" (optional)
  • silver paint (optional)

number 1 centerpiece

Step One:


  • draw your number, letter, or whatever onto cardboard. I used an old Costco diaper box.
  • cut out 2 (Xacto knife is easiest)

number 1 centerpiece

Step Two:

  • take your card stock and measure out strips 2 inches wide, this will be the siding and cut it out. 
  • We needed one whole sheet & then smidgen of a 2nd sheet of card stock
  • A Smith of all Trades used a cereal box instead, we don't have any cereal in our house, but we did have tons of card stock left over from making the Confetti Birthday Banner


number 1 centerpiece

Step Three:

  • tape the cardstock to the sides of the number one. 


number 1 centerpiece

Here is a little tip: 

  • I added a little filling to the inside of my number to weight it down so that it wouldn't tip over. This is optional. But it just seemed like a good idea. You can use whatever you have on hand. I just put in a couple of bottles of nail polish ;)

Decorating the Centerpiece:

  • When decorating, you can really do whatever you want. 
  • One idea is to cover it in wrapping paper, or you can do what I did an spray paint it with silver glitter. I just painted over the wrapping paper with silver paint first and then used the KRYLON glitter blast spray in "silver flash."
  • In the 2nd picture you can see that the paint wilted the paper a little, but it seemed to smooth itself out once I sprayed the glitter blast. The reason I chose to cover it in wrapping paper was because the duct tape showed up through the paint and I didn't really like that. I suppose I could've wrapped it it card stock instead and avoided the wilting of the paper, but it turned out fine & pretty smooth in the long run =)
number 1 centerpiece

number 1 centerpiece
(looks a little wrinkly after the paint, but for it smoothed out after the glitter blast spray dried, see pic below)


DIY Number Centerpiece


I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!!!! Good luck with your centerpieces!!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

How to Make a Confetti Birthday Banner

David's birthday party is about a week away and so I've been gathering supplies. I have the pavilion reserved, the invites sent out, and the menu planned, all that's left (aside from making the food) are the decorations!

I decided to make most of the decor for David's First Birthday Bash partly because I feel like most store-bought decorations are not very cute and partly because I just don't feel like it's special enough--turning one is a big deal! Plus, when you make your own decorations you can really customize them to the party.

The theme for David's birthday is confetti. I know, it's not as cool as other people who do dinosaur parties or Frozen parties, etc. but it is more our style. I'm just not a big fan of the cute-sy parties where the names of all the food change to match the theme [ex.) donut holes become dino eggs]. But confetti is easy. Just add sprinkles to your the tops of your cookies or brownies and your set!

So here is a tutorial for David's Birthday Banner! It's easy, colorful, fun, and (I think) super cute!!

Confetti Birthday Banner


Supplies:


  • computer paper
  • 3 sheets silver glitter card stock ($1 ea at Michael's)
  • 1 pack multi-color cardstock ($4.99 at Michael's)
  • scissors
  • hole punch
  • pen
  • 25 ft string (or however long you need, mine needs to reach across 18')


happy birthday

Step One:

  • Choose a font you like on your computer and type up your banner. You only need one of each letter so for "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" I only typed up "HAPYBIRTHD"
  • I personally just used Word Art and picked the first option it gave me. 
  • Change the settings to make each letter 4" x 2.5" (with the exception of "I," which is 4"x 1") 
  • Print and cut out each letter

happy birthday

Step Two:

  • Trace each letter onto the back of your glitter card stock
  • Reverse your letters so you are tracing the mirror images, that way the glitter side will be facing the right way
happy birthday

Step Three:

  • Cut out your letters and hole punch them
  • I only had a three ring hole punch, so that's what I used.
  • Important!! punch two holes in each letter (even "I"). This will help stabilize your letters so they are laying flat and not sideways when you put them on the string
confetti birthday banner

Step Four:

  • Take your multi-colored card stock and trace a circle on it. 
  • I used a bowl I had in my cabinet for the stencil, it is about 5" in diameter.
  • If you use a 5" bowl, you can fit 2 circles per page

confetti birthday banner

Step Five:

  • Now that you have your circles traced, cut them out
  • The card stock I bought had 5 different colors, I cut out 20 circles, so 4 of each color
  • After you cut them, hole punch 2 holes at the top of each circle
confetti birthday banner

Step Six: 


  • Center everything on the string and you're done!
confetti birthday banner

I hope you love the way your banner turned out! I know I did! Happy Birthday!!




DIY Confetti Birthday Banner


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Banana Bread French Toast and Caramel Syrup

Happy Father's Day to all the great fathers out there! I hope you are all enjoying your Sunday! This was Scott's first official Father's Day and so, of course, we had to celebrate!

This morning David woke up around 7 am ready to start the day. Unfortunately, Dad was still pretty sleepy since Sundays are one of his only days off. So we let him sleep in and we got started on all the great Father's Day stuff we had planned.

Step One was to make dad a card. As it turns out, David is still a little young for this activity!

father's day markers

When he got mad at me for stopping him from eating the markers, we decided it was probably best to move on to Step Two: Breakfast.

Banana Bread French Toast with Homemade Caramel Syrup!


banana bread french toast with caramel syrup


I hope you all are as excited about this as I am! One winter when I was a server at IHOP, they came out with Banana Bread French Toast. I was in love! It was the most delicious thing ever! (now they have something called Bananas Foster, but I don't really understand what that is or if it's as good...) 

I decided to top the french toast with my all time favorite syrup, which is a copycat recipe for Kneader's Caramel Syrup and it was definitely a hit! Scott loved it (almost as much as I did)!

Banana Bread French Toast:


  • 8 thick slices of banana bread (you can definitely buy this premade, I made it the night before with a box mix)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbs butter (for coating the griddle only)
  • 1 banana, sliced (for topping)
  1. Mix eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla in shallow bowl.
  2. Melt butter on a hot griddle
  3. Dip slices of banana bread one at a time in egg mixture
  4. Shake excess egg mixture off bread, and then place on hot griddle
  5. Cook on all sides until lightly browned
  6. Serve with banana slices and whipped cream
Serving size: 1 slice, makes 8 slices
Macros per serving: 5.7 g fat, 35.1 g carbs, 5.3 g protein

Caramel Syrup:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup light Karo (corn) syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  1. Put all ingredients directly into a small saucepan on medium heat stirring occasionally until smooth and caramel in color.
Serving size:  1 tablespoon
Macros per serving: .8 g fat, 7.9 g carbs, .1 g protein

I hope you enjoy this super simple & delicious recipe!! Let me know how it turned out! Happy Father's Day!



banana bread french toast with kneader's caramel syrup

banana bread french toast with kneader's caramel syrup

david loves banana bread
mmmm!!

david loves banana bread
David loved it too!!

david loves banana bread
yum!!!


Friday, June 19, 2015

How much food should I serve?


If any of you are like me, you worry about serving enough food at social gatherings. With David's birthday coming up, I have been researching to find out how much food we should make for our guests. I have found a few helpful charts which were great, but none of them really encompassed all the types of food I wanted to serve. I got tired of going back and forth between 3-4 different sources, so I decided to combine them all along with some info I found on wilton.com and cater it to our party. Hopeful this chart helps you out as well.


how much food should I serve


Now you might be wondering, how on earth can an 8 inch round cake feed 20?! I wondered the same thing. I always cut my cakes into wedges, so I'd imagine an 8 inch cake feeding around 12-16 depending on how big you make the pieces.

I got the serving numbers on the cake from wilton.com. For "party cakes" they recommended 1 1/2" x 2" pieces. So these would definitely be smaller size portions. If you want to dish our bigger portions then you will need to buying a larger cake than the guide states.

To get the recommended serving size you must cut an inner circle 2" from the outer edge and then slice 1 1/2" pieces within the circle and then, if you have a larger cake, move in another 2" and repeat until cake is completely cut.

Square and rectangular cakes are a lot easier. Just cut in 2" x 1 1/2" slices and serve.

We are keeping it simple with a rectangular cake and smaller pieces because we will also be serving brownies, cookies, and rice crispy treats.

Happy Party Planning!!


How to Plan a First Birthday Party

My sweet little boy is turning ONE!!! in less than a month!!! I can't believe it. Time has just flown by!

We are throwing a first birthday party for him on the Sunday before his birthday and my mind is going crazy trying to plan it all.

Here is a picture of the invites we sent out this week.

First Birthday Invite

I literally just took a screen shot on my computer of the invite, so that might not be the best quality.

What makes this event hard to plan is that we are not entirely sure who will all show up. I thought we were just inviting family and a few close friends, but apparently my husband decided to invite the whole world! lol. I mean, people we barely know! People I have never met even! & that have never met David! And what's crazy is, they are actually RSVPing "YES"!! 

I love my husband, and I love how excited he is about David's birthday, but this party is going to get really expensive, really quickly if he doesn't stop inviting everyone he meets!

Here are some things I have learned about planning a first birthday party thus far:

how to plan a party


1. Figure out time & place at least 2 MONTHS in advance.

  • I went back-and-forth between different locations for David's birthday for months until I finally decided on this park. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to decide. The park we finally landed on we discovered on our way to a DIFFERENT park! 

2. Reserve the location before you do ANYTHING else.

  • If you're planning a birthday/event with more than 10 guests, it is a good idea to reserve the space. The last thing you want is to have 30 people show & have all this food prepared with no where for it all to go.
  • The pavilion at our park is pretty popular & gets booked months in advance, so make this your first priority!

3. Send out save-the-dates.

  • We set up a Facebook event for David's party a little over a month in advance. 
  • We did this for multiple reasons: 1.) to get the event on people's radar so they can plan for it (we have several relatives coming from out of state) 2.) to get an idea of who all might want to come 3.) to get addresses to send the formal invites 4.) to create an easy & convenient way for people to RSVP

4. Send out invites 3 weeks before the party.

  • We created invites for David's birthday. This step isn't necessary, but it is his first birthday so we thought it would be a good keepsake. Also, it serves as a good reminder so people don't forget about the party.
  • We just used one of the templates on walmart.com and took the picture using a regular point & shoot digital camera. It only cost us around $10 for 30 invites. Not bad at all.

5. Set a clear RSVP deadline.

  • On the invite we told our prospective guests to be sure to RSVP to the event's Facebook page by June 30th at the latest (this is 5 days before the party).
  • People forget to RSVP all the time & so it is important to remind them otherwise you might have a lot of unexpected guests & not enough food.

6. Send a reminder on Facebook the week before and the day before.

  • This one is self explanatory. I'm a very forgetful person, and so I assume others can be to. 

7. Decide on a menu.

  • It's good to be thinking about this throughout, but it can be difficult until everyone RSVP's to know how much food to make/buy. 
  • Don't worry I will be sharing my menu with you all in a later post.

8. Prep food the night before.

  • If you plan on making food, prepare as much as possible the day before that way you are not stressed with a million things to do on the day of the party.
  • My current plan is to make desserts (brownies, rice crispy treats, cookies) and salads (potato, pasta, & fruit) the day before. 

9. Show up a couple hours early to set up.

  • We are doing a barbecue. The general rule with a charcoal grill (which is what we have at the park pavilion) is to let the coals burn for about a half hour before grilling. Scott plans to get there about an hour early to start the grilling process, while I start decorating & laying out food.
    • Our decorations are going to be low-key. Easier clean-up & plus, people don't really care if we do 5 balloons instead of 30. It's really just about who we're with and, well, the food. The food needs to be good ;)
10. Don't stress.
  • Of course, this is the most IMPORTANT tip. This is a party! It is supposed to be fun! Planning everything out this way & prepping food the night before should make for an easy & stress free party. And even if everything doesn't go perfectly, who cares?
  • This is David's first birthday. He is not going to remember it. We just want to have fun and celebrate this amazing year we've had together as a family. Enjoy your time with your family and friends!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

What is your identity?

I recently took a week long hiatus from this blog to relax, enjoy family time, and really just focus on myself.

This break was much needed. As a stay at home mom, most people think that my life is a break. I don't go to a typical 9 to 5 job Monday thru Friday. I get to relax and hang out with my adorable 11 month old every day!
stay at home mom is the best job ever!

It is true. I am sooo lucky to be able to hang out with my sweet son everyday, not a lot of parents get this opportunity. I am extremely grateful. But let's get one thing straight. Just because I don't spend my day in the office, does not mean that I don't need a break from it all every once in a while.

This week long break really allowed me to sit back and take a look at my life. It has changed so much in the past 2 years. I went from being a single twenty something year old who's priorities were focused on myself and my needs & wants to being married and putting my husband above it all to being a mother and putting my son & husband first.

family pic

Because of all the changes, so much of what I used to be has disappeared. My single life is just a memory and, honestly, it almost doesn't feel like it was ever really my life. It seems like forever ago. In fact, if someone were to ask me what my hobbies or interests are today, I don't even know what my answer would be.. I suppose it would be something like going to the park with David or playing hide-and-go-seek with David or making Pinterest inspired recipes for Scott and David...

David at the splash pad
(David @ the splash pad)

Now don't get me wrong. I love my life, but I miss having interests that were uniquely mine. I miss having stories to share with Scott that were more than just "guess what David did today."


It didn't happen overnight.


It took a while for my identity to drift away. I was pregnant for 9 months. I didn't really start showing until I was about 6 months along. I started a new job at 7 months and that's when I know longer had a name. I was the pregnant girl. People didn't know how to talk to me. Any conversation started was about my son and how I was feeling.

It sounds pretty selfish to complain about that. Everyone seemed genuinely concerned with my well being as a pregnant woman and that was sweet, but I let that encompass my identity. I let myself shift from being Alexis, the girl with all these interests and talents to Alexis, the girl who will be having a baby in a few months.

I embraced that definition of me. I let a lot of my hobbies disappear. I used my pregnancy as an excuse.

When you're pregnant, there's a lot of things that you can't do. Especially in the Summer. And in the Winter. And in the Fall. And in the Spring.

Some of the things I missed the most were: water parks, energy drinks, roller coasters, hot tubs, tanning, working out (you can still work out, it's just harder, I would get out of breath easily), traveling during the third trimester.. Everything is mainly just a safety precaution.

After you have a baby, there's a lot of things that you can't do either. Partly due to recovery, and partly due to the newborn and partly just because traveling with a baby makes easy things extremely inconvenient.

There is a lot to adjust to.

Not to mention all the body image issues that come along from gaining 30+ pounds during pregnancy. And they don't just melt off right after the baby!

My son weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces at birth and somehow I only lost like 7 pounds initially.

It takes work to get that pre-baby body back and it is never really back to normal.

My son is almost a year and even though I've (finally) lost the baby weight, I still have that dark vertical line going down my belly button from the pregnancy and my bra size is different, which means all my clothes fit differently too.


What's my point?


This week of reflection allowed me to remember that I am more than David's mother and Scott's wife. I am those things, but I am also Alexis. I have my own hobbies. I have my own likes and my own dislikes. There are books I like to read and music I like to listen to.

There are parts of me that have nothing to do with being a mother or a wife and that is okay. 

I do believe in sacrificing and putting my family first, but it is alright to put yourself first every once in a while too. It is actually necessary, in my opinion, in order to keep your sanity.

I think a lot of mother's fall into the trap of allowing your family's hobbies to become your own. It is relatively easy to do, especially since their happiness is what matters most to you. But what I've learned is that it is okay to take a step back.

It is fine to take an hour for yourself and go to the gym.

For months after David was born, I wouldn't let myself go to the gym. I was still working full time and didn't feel like I got enough time with him, so the last thing I wanted was to spend an extra hour away at the gym. I still hate being away from him, but having some "me" time has improved my self- confidence, my self-esteem, my mood, and even my energy levels. It has allowed me to feel like myself again and honestly, I think I am a better mom and definitely a better wife when I let myself be me.

For me, sometimes the gym is what refreshes me or sometimes it's just relaxing in front of the tv with some candy ;)
friends marathon with buncha crunch


For others it may be reading, cooking, or anything that makes you happy outside of the home. Just don't be afraid to put yourself first.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Forgiveness is...

No one is perfect. This is common knowledge. We all know that everyone makes mistakes. But, if this is the way things are and we accept that then why is it so hard to forgive?

I think it is because there is a big misunderstanding. Most people don't fully understand what forgiveness is and what it isn't.

forgiveness is...

Forgiveness is...

...not letting the offender off the hook.
...not letting the offense recur again and again.
...a process not an event.
...not the same as reconciling. (we don't have to be best friends with them again)
...not always forgetting.
...a necessity, even if they're not sorry.

Just because you forgive them does not mean everything must go back to normal. It does not mean denying reality or ignoring repeated offenses. Sometimes things can't go back to how they used to be. Sometimes trust is broken and relationships are ruined.

But... forgiveness is about us, not them. We are required to forgive all men, and that is for our own well being.When you don't forgive someone, it can really tear you apart. It is not healthy to keep resentment bottled up inside of you.  Forgiveness is a mental choice. We can either forgive and move on with our lives or hold on to this and stay angry. We should never give this incident, no matter how terrible, the power to rule our lives.

Let me give you an example from my life.

My mother-in-law.


Let me make sure you understand what type of relationship we have first. Have you ever seen the TV show, "Everybody Loves Raymond?" You know Ray's mom, Marie? and you know how her and Debra (Ray's wife) don't really get along? Well my relationship with my mother-in-law is kind of like that. It is very subtle and most people probably wouldn't pick up on it.

everybody loves raymond

All I am just going to say that my mother-in-law and I have had multiple instances where we disagreed. There have been many times over the past year where I felt she was out of line. There have been many times when I have felt she was actually so far past that line that I wasn't sure the relationship could recover. There have been times when I have been fuming mad because of something that was done or said and I would dwell on it for days sometimes weeks even.

Anyway, the point is, it was tough, but I learned that I needed to forgive her. It took a lot of time. I didn't want to but I did.

Forgiveness allows you to let go and move on. Until I decided to forgive her I literally relived the drama over and over. I was obsessed with it. I couldn't think about anything else and I hated that. I needed to forgive her for ME.

accept an apology you never got


I never went directly to her and said the words "I forgive you," because I didn't do it for her. And I don't know that she would ever really care to know.

Forgiveness was FOR ME. It was so I could keep my sanity. 

I don't go over to my in-law's house very often anymore and I don't have to. Our relationship will never be the same. We don't get a fresh start or a clean slate and that is okay. Things don't have to go back to normal; you don't have to be best friends with the person who wronged you even if you forgive them. Just do it for you.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Addicting Pumpkin Cookie Recipe

Alright so today I am going to share my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE pumpkin cookie recipe. I know, I know, it is not really pumpkin season. People typically think of having pumpkin treats in the fall around Halloween and Thanksgiving, but I broke away from the norm and made these the other day.

P.S. I doubled the recipe and made around 6 dozen pumpkin cookies and they were all gone within ONE DAY! No lie! I probably ate about a third of them and my husband ate the other two-thirds!

I'm not allowed to make these anymore until he has a six pack he said lol I guess they are just too hard to say no too!


best pumpkin cookie recipe ever


Ingredients:

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp milk
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions:


  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil and egg in a small bowl. 
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  4. Dissolve baking soda with the milk and add to mixture.
  5. Add vanilla and chocolate chips
  6. Drop by spoonful on greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Serving size: 1 cookie, makes 24
Macros per serving: 6.8 g fat, 27.1 g carbs, 2.2 g protein

Enjoy!