A Very Ladybug Girl First Birthday Party

So it has obviously been a while since I was last able to write a post.  There were a lot of house and birthday party preparations going on in my blogging absence.  Aria's party could not have turned out better. We all had so much fun and got some great pictures of all the memories thanks to Heather at HMD Photography (she also did my labor and delivery pics too - I love when things come full cirlce!)!

I pretty much made all her decorations and tried to make and do things that could be reused.  The only think I ended up not reusing (but recycling) were the streamers.  I was going to make some out of fabric or something, but time was not on my side.  Plus, it doesn't really feel like a party without streamers.

I also made most of the food, where I could.  It was all "real food" that was local or organic with the exception of the meat (but it was the non-junky kind) and the cake mix for the dip (but it was so tasty I'll look the other way on this one)

Also, I'm pretty excited to say I stayed within budget, even before I returned some extra things that we didn't end up using at the party!

I could very well make like 10 more posts on the details of the decorations, so I'll try to keep it brief in this post.  There isn't a picture of it here, but I used empty boxes and covered them in pretty wrapping paper to create levels for the food dishes on the table, I thought I was pretty slick with that idea.

Here is a sampling of the party decorations and of the birthday girl!

A chalkboard picture for every month of her life.  Plus a baby to belly to toddler picture up at the top and a chalkboard for the first three weeks of her life too.  So proud of myself for keeping up with this.
The ladybug pins on the lines are from a dear friend who is living in Japan right now, they worked out perfectly.

Amazing cake dip recipe I got off Pinterest.
I didn't want to overwhelm with too much red so I used a black tablecloth with red dots as an accent.

Homemade plain hummus and roasted red pepper hummus.

The bunting I made with the Pin the Dot on the Ladybug game I made, in the background.

Aria let us try the cake first.

Then she went right for the ladybug and chowed down.

We created a cake monster.

When I took the tray away, she got upset and started to shovel it in with both hands.

Keeping some cake reserves for later in her hand.

All cleaned up!  (notice my earrings from my previous post?)
All in all it was an awesome day and we want to thank everyone who was able to come out and celebrate with us!


Playing Catch-Up

This week has been more busy than normal already, so that is why there hasn't been a new post in a while.  Here is a quick list of what was going on:

1. We have been packing and organizing the house like crazy trying to get it ready for the realtor to come and assess.

2. Which fills in this point - I am a Tetris Master - the storage unit is PACKED.

3.  I've been making elements or decorations for Aria's party every night for the past few weeks.

4. I was super sick today, hubster even stayed home from work to take care of Aria. Blergz.

5. Did I mention we have been cleaning like mad?

6.  Picking out paint for rooms in a house that hopefully won't be yours for much longer and trying to anticipate what other people want is really, really hard.  Right now our rooms are light blue, this weird green color, teal and the little one's room is light green with a light purple stripe.  Not exactly traditional colors - I blame my Mom - our house was referred to as the "rainbow house" growing up.

7.  I've been busy planning my next craft projects and gathering supplies!

8.  I've been packing for my birthday weekend!  I'm going scrapbooking with my friend at some huge scrapbooking thing.  I am beyond excited!  (getting your supplies together is tough work)

9.  I've been cleaning and packing! 

so there you have it, pictures of all the awesomeness above will be coming soon!  In the meantime, maybe I'll try to go to sleep before 4am...


Fabulously Free Earrings!

When I was in Girl Scouts, we each had a bead box full of embroidery floss.  When we got to a meeting early or went camping, we got out our boxes and made friendship bracelets.  It was so much fun to go to the store and pick out new colors and make bracelets for my friends.  Fast forward almost 20 years (what, the what?!) and in true Cathy fashion, I still have all the leftover floss.

My floss stash - so many memories! (It is in a pipette tip container that I saved from the trash at work, talk about upcycling!)
Late one night I saw found this blog, probably through Pinterest, but once you start clicking links, it is hard to keep track.  I really wanted a new project that wasn't painting and was easy (so I knew I would actually do it) and this fit the bill.

I made these to match my outfit for Aria's first birthday party.  I love that they use the floss that I had as a kid.  It makes it have more meaning to me than just a pair of earrings.  Plus I had the paperclips, gold hook part (I have sensitive ears), and two findings on hand.  Free = Awesome.  I also used scrapbook metal finding glue which dried clear.  I'll let the pictures speak to how easy it was to make.

Behold!  The awesomeness that is 15 minute earrings:

Step 1: Open paperclip and glue ends together.  Step 2: Wrap with string, gluing the ends with clear glue.

Step 3:  Wrap a pattern around the earring.  I added glue in a few key places to make sure the strings stayed put when a 1-year-old terrorizes them later.

Step 4:  Add earring hooks.  I attached mine with findings since they didn't open by themselves at the bottom.

My inspiration piece from Evie S.

I can totally see stringing a few beads here and there, two-toned with a different "nest" string and an outer string or different designs.  Maybe a black/grey web for Halloween and put a little button spider on it or make a solid pattern to make it look like a candy corn?  Or a green one to look like a Christmas tree with some "ornaments" for December?  The possibilities are endless!

What do you think?  What type will you create?

Shutterfly Custom Path

***I am in no way affiliated with Shutterfly, nor have they compensated me for this post.  I just really love it that much.

I received a credit for a free photo book recently and am super excited about creating it.  Shutterfly has this new thing called Custom Path that basically lets you create a themed scrapbook.  You can edit the pages completely too.  I have been waiting what seems like eons to make Aria's chalkboard book.  Then again, it also seems like just yesterday.  In case you don't know, I have been taking pictures of my daughter with a chalkboard with some of her milestones each month of her life.  I can't decide if I want to keep doing each month after she turns one or just do it each year or maybe just each six months.  Decisions.  Right now everything is growing and she is learning new things every day, so it is kind of easy to do one each month and have new and exciting skills to report to the world via her chalkboard. But I digress...

Anyway, there is a chalkboard background theme that is just PERFECT.  I could not have made it better myself.  The other great thing is that I get a 20-page book for free (plus cost of shipping) with my special code offer which means I have leftover pages for her birthday party as well.  I hired a friend to take pictures at the party since I don't want to miss out on anything and I'm sure I will be a crazy-lady that afternoon and won't be able to take pictures myself.

So here is a preview:  

Weeks 1-3 of Aria's Shutterfly chalkboard book.
Pretty excited to finish this and order it!  Though it will be bittersweet since that will mean my little baby will be One!

Co-op Grocery Trip and Dinner

As soon as Brad brings the mail in, since I always forget to go get it, I immediately sort it.  One pile for recycling, one pile for shredding and one pile of scan/file/pay-this-bill.  I was casually sorting the mail and I went to put a newspaper type ad into the recycles when something caught my eye.  It was an add for a co-op supermarket - RIGHT DOWN THE STREET from me!  How could I have not known this place existed?  The plans were made and the next day I ventured there.

Everyone was so friendly and helpful.  It was like being in a general store on Little House on the Prairie.  Everything was either local or organic or both.  It made hunting down what I needed so much easier but at the same time, there was so much I had never seen before.  I wanted to stay and look a while but I knew Aria would only be able to handle so much grocery shopping before she wanted to get down and play (I had her in the baby sling), so I just looked at the perimeter aisles - at least that is what you are supposed to do at the traditional grocery store, right?

It had been forever since we had any fish, and fresh fish at that, so I decided to get some wild-caught salmon.  I had seen a ton of pins for teriyaki salmon so I figured I would be safe in finding a recipe - or even leaving it bare with some fresh lemon on it.  I also got an organic local zuchinni and onion along with some bulk mixed nuts (totally awesome) and some bulk nutritional yeast to try out.

I ended up making a honey teriyaki glaze for the salmon and veggie fried rice.  Brad liked both and asked for more, so I'm saying this was a success for throwing something together in about 20 minutes.

Brad came home from work early and Aria had just woken up from her nap, so I didn't have time to go actually searching for the recipes that I had seen in the wee hours of the night I saw while pinteresting on my phone in bed.  I improvised with what I could remember and I think they turned out pretty darn good.

Veggie Fried Rice

some sesame oil
some olive oil
1 zuchinni
1 yellow squash
1/2 medium onion
garlic - about 2 cloves worth, minced
2 eggs
ground ginger
salt and pepper
cooked rice (I used medium grain brown rice)

Start by cooking your rice either in a rice cooker or a heavy bottomed pot on the stovetop, following the directions on the bag.

While the rice is cooking, wash and cut up your veggies.  Heat your skillet and add some sesame oil and equal parts olive oil.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and heat for a few minutes.  Add the veggies and cook until tender, stirring so they don't burn to the bottom of the skillet.  Add some ground ginger, salt and pepper.  I just sprinkled it over the surface of the veggies.

Once the veggies are tender, push them to the outer edge of the pan and scramble the eggs in the middle.  You might need to add a little more oil before doing this so the eggs don't burn to the pan (I might cook a little too high on the heat - sorry Daddy!).

After everything is looking good, add the rice and brown for a few minutes.  You will have to stir this around the whole time to make sure that all of the rice is "fried" (there isn't a lot of oil left at this point so I'm not sure how fried it really is).  And you are done!

Honey Teriyaki Salmon

teriyaki sauce
sesame seed oil
spritzing of oil
Preheat your oven to 400F.  

You will need equal parts honey and teriyaki sauce.  I didn't measure, probably about 3-4 tablespoons of each.  I also put in about half as much sesame seed oil.  Wisk it up.  Give it a taste to make sure it isn't too salty and isn't too sweet.  Set aside.

Get out your fillet of salmon and cut it into equal parts.  Mine cut up into three sections.  Place them onto a foil lined baking sheet that has been lightly spritzed with some type of oil.  (Salmon will stick to anything given the opportunity).

You can either just pour the glaze on the pieces (which is what I did and it made a browned honey sauce on the foil which I scooped up and put on top of the pieces after they were cooked) or you can put the salmon in a bowl and let them marinate for 10-15 minutes or until the oven is preheated.

Cook the salmon for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick your pieces are.  I started at 10 and checked them.  I think cooked them for about 13 and a half minutes.  They are done with they are a lighter pink and are flaky. (please excuse my sauce drizzle in the corner)

Ooo - Look at that plating!

The color on this salmon was amazing.  It was such a bright pink.  I was hungry and didn't take the time to really get a good shot.

I would say this was a success!


White Turkey Chili

I normally make chili in the crockpot and let it sit for like 4 hours but I'm still learning my time management skillz of staying at home and taking care of everything being the Family Manager, so I made it on the stove.  It was really easy to make and only took like 45 minutes to cook once I had everything cut up!

White Turkey Chili

1 lb ground turkey
5-6 cups homemade chicken stock
some kind of oil or butter to saute the veggies with
1 vidallia onion (I diced it up really small)
a hearty helping on minced garlic (like 2 spoonfuls full)
2 ribs of organic celery (I also diced these up small)
1 poblano pepper, seeds removed and diced (I only used one because I don't like a lot of spice, you can add more if you want)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cans of organic great white northern beans, drained and rinsed
grated cheese, we use seriously sharp Cabott block cheese
a dolop of sour cream
ground white pepper
 *you can leave off the cheese and sour cream for a healthier option, but it won't be as tasty


1. In a big pot on med-high heat, cook the butter and and onions until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and stir so the garlic doesn't burn to the bottom of the pot.
2.  Add the celery, peppers, and cumin and cook until tender.
3.  Next, add the turkey.  Since turkey is softer than ground beef, I add it in chunks so it is easier to break it up.  Make sure it is cooked throughout before moving to next step.
4.  Add the homemade chicken stock and beans.  Bring to a high simmer.  Reduce heat to keep it at a simmer and cover pot for like 30 minutes or so.  (I didn't really time this, I just cleaned up the kitchen and when I was done, I decided it was ready).  If it looks like there isn't a lot of soup part, you can add more stock or water.  We like the soup part, so I added more half-way through this step.
5.  Ladle out into bowls, add a dolop of sour cream, some shredded cheese and top with white pepper.

For throwing something together to use up some ground turkey, my hubby really liked it.  Plus, I love one pot meals! Other than a cutting board, knife and cheese grater, there isn't a lot of clean-up involved - my favorite. *It looks like there is a ton of sour cream, but the chili was hot and it slid down the mountain.  I was hungry and didn't want to plate a third bowl just for pics - this was my second attempt bowl. *


Birthday Preview (AKA Cathy can be awesomely creative sometimes)

I've been busy making decorations for Aria's birthday.  Not that she will really remember any of it, but I want it to be nice for pictures (and inexpensive).  I'm also too cheap awesomely creative to buy things that I can make (better) myself.  I have a TON of crafty-type supplies.  I only just now am running low (not out) of black cardstock.  My crafting supply collection is, well, ridiculous so I'm basically making everything for free, except the time it takes me to do it.  As an added bonus, making these decorations is one of the things keeping me from not going nuts in the productive mind-set at the moment.  I don't think I can look at anymore on Pinterest pins without feeling guilty without actually making like 20 projects to make up for all the time I've already spent on the site. (Though for the project picture below, I thought and designed of myself after seeing a cheap plastic one on OTC's site).
 Anyway - Our friend Emily has graciously offered to have it at her house since she has a rockin' grill and a place to put a pool and our house is in the middle of the transition of moving (aka Box Party Central). 
For now, this is a preview of one of the decorations for her Ladybug Girl themed party!