Owen’s Little Italy 1st Birthday Party

 

 

One Week Ago. My Youngest Owen Turned 1! We celebrated his actual birthday with a little photoshoot on his side of the room, with some balloons, a few gifts from us and grandparents and his first cupcake.

 

The next day we went to dinner at a local Italian restaurant and on Sunday we had his birthday party! We did a Numero Uno – Little Italy Theme. I like choosing uncommon themes and knew I had to do it after seeing a similar themed party on Instagram. Now generally when I plan parties, I start planning and getting items and invites ready and sent out months before. But to be honest, even though I had researched the party theme ahead of time.. time got away from me and I didn’t start getting things ready until the week of. Thank god for Party City, Target, The Dollar Store and Michaels all being close by and really Amazon Prime.  I will say I ran out of time and didn’t get to decorate as much as I would have liked.. But I am pretty happy with the results regardless.

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I just realized I didn’t take pictures of the actual food or the Italian Soda Station I made! Oops!

Making the theme Little Italy really made the food options easy and honestly, I had to calm my self when it came to the food, cause if it were up to me, the budget and time.. there would have been SO Many more options.

The Menu was Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, GF Cheese Raviolis, three different pizzas, Lasagna, and Garlic Bread.

The Italian Cream soda station was fun too.  We had 4 flavor syrups to choose from (thank you World Market!) Smores, Peach, Vanilla and Cherry. Regular San Pellegrino, and Half and Half.

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Dessert was simple, Chocolate & Vanilla Cupcakes, Cannolis and Italian Ice.  PS those Cannolis were bomb and I am so proud that I made them (super easy to do, and I bought mini pre-made shells on Amazon, best decision!)

However, the cake was my pride and joy. Probably the best cake I have made thus far.  It was lemon with vanilla frosting and topped with Cannolis and it looked like i got it at a bakery. Too bad Owen doesn’t have a sweet tooth like his big mother and Mama.

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Overall, the party was a success. If you have read my previous posts about how we have odd luck with weather. This party was no exception. Just like Owen’s Baby Shower we planned for rain. It had been a down pour the whole month and more leading up to the party and ran was forecasted for the day. Although, that wasn’t incorrect. The whole party was planned for inside our small, not open floor planned home and the weather was nice was the whole party. In fact thunderstorms begun minutes after all the guests left. Most importantly Owen seemed to enjoy is party and thats all that matters.

Up next is big brother Bennett’s golden 3rd birthday in April!“

When are You Getting Married?- Part Two

Read Part One Here

By Early July 2017 I found out I was pregnant with Baby Number 2 are our focus became on preparing for him and on March 8th, 2018 he was born.  Technically, we still could plan a wedding for our original August 11th, 2018 date but we would really have to compromise a lot and we only ever discussed it vaguely. From time to time looking at venues etc.

In June, we really started to talk about planning for a wedding in 2019, maybe and we really started considering looking at wedding venues out of state, or even out of the country, and weighing the pros and cons of each experience.

This is where I think it is a good time to confess something. An insecurity of mine, but not just an insecurity but almost a fact that had been proven and shown in ways to me time after time. Nobody cared/cares if Andrew and I got married. Nobody really ever asked when it was going to happen, nobody was super excited when we got engaged, nobody offered to throw us an engagement party and mostly, every time I even attempted to discuss wedding planning and discuss how it was hard for us to have a wedding due to our large party size and how expensive it was in this area.  I was met with disinterest, or straight up discouragement.

  • “Why don’t you just elope?”
  • “You can just have it at a park?”
  • “You don’t NEED to have a big party”
  • “Why don’t you just have it in your backyard”
  • “Just have a potluck”
  • “A Wedding is just about you two, getting married.. not a party”
  • “Oh, if you have it there/then. We definitely won’t go”

Hearing these things was not only frustrating but super saddening. Especially, since a lot of these people, were people who had big beautiful weddings themselves. I couldn’t help but hear ” you are not worth it, we do not care about you”, “we can have a nice wedding but YOU can’t” and “You are being unrealistic” every time someone said something to that affect. I mean honestly I can think of only 2, maybe 3 people who have spoken in a positive manner about our wedding. With all of this going on in my head wedding planning became a very sad experience for me (and I LOVE event planning) but every time I attempted to begin planning our wedding again, I would get severe anxiety and usually end up bawling my eyes out. On several occasions telling Andrew “I must have been a shitty person in my past life.” (I’m not saying I’m an amazing person, but i think i am overall a decently good person and friend) and yet, I felt like NOBODY… family or friends cared at all about me and kind of made me not want to have a wedding anymore, but Andrew still did. So keep all this in mind as I continue on with our story.

Come end of June/July one of my closest friends got engaged. And to make this very clear I am OVER THE MOON excited and happy for her and her fiance but I watched people who showed little interest in my wedding planning process become super excited and interested in hers and obviously, I felt a small pang of sadness and jealously again. Soon after she announced that they had books their wedding for Fall of 2019 out of state. (They live out of state though). And I watch people become super excited for an out of the state wedding. This gave me some hope that maybe Andrew and I could also have a “destination” wedding.  And obviously, I was a little sad that her wedding would be in 2019, because I knew that we couldn’t plan ours for 2019. I mean we could have (and she even said we could) but I didn’t want to take away from her time as a bride to be, and since our bridal party would be virtually the same, I didn’t want to also stress them out and honestly, I knew if they had to pick between us. They would choose her.

So, 2019 rolls around and Andrew and I finally had gotten to a good place with wedding planning again. I started to be a little more excited and Andrew and I decided on a possible date of August 2nd, 2020 (which is the day we started dating). We started looking around again for venues and keeping ALL options open. I had found several locations I was interested Beringer Vineyard in St.Helena, Castle Green In Pasadena, we were even considering Kohl Mansion again, Thornwood Castle in Washington and I had stumbled across Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina (That I became kind of obsessed with, but Andrew just wasn’t sure about). We looked at Italy, Scotland, and France.  But the problem looking out of state and even out of country is Andrew and I didn’t know where to start. We only lived in California so we really didn’t have any connection to anywhere else (besides Idaho and I didn’t find a venue I loved).  But we were open to looking.

Then came Superbowl Sunday. The day that changed everything really. Andrew and I went to Beringer Vineyard. The boys each went to a grandparents and Andrew and I drive the hour and half to Napa Valley. The day was magical.  We toured the venue, drank LOTS of wine, had lunch a fun restaurant (Which has the best fried potatoes EVER)  and even went and looked at investment properties. It was much needed couple time for us. We even got home just in time for a Super Bowl party.

I won’t go into details of what happened as it is still raw and personal. But is was pretty much very similar to the previous  discouraging sentiments above and ended with me running out of the party in tears. I spent most of that night bawling. I was completely deflated. Andrew tried to be supportive but I couldn’t see a silver lining. Again, I was proven correct. No one cared about us.

The next morning, I woke up with a new sense of self and I told Andrew. Screw it. We are going to have a wedding. We are going to find a location wherever it is and I don’t care anymore who decides to go. EVERYONE was being so negative about the experience and had ruined what was suppose to be a happy time for me. So, I’m done trying to plan around what will be most convenient for everyone else.  Andrew was hesitant but saw my point. With that I have one more condition. We are going to be hiring a wedding planner. Someone who will know my vision and work with me but essentially do it all, cause I couldn’t stand to look at one more venue, vendor, anything wedding related anymore.  Andrew, agreed and I began my research and I sent out several e-mails to wedding planners all over the US, scheduled interviews and began the wedding planning process for 2020 with a very renewed sense of hope.

 

 

 

Before I Turn 30 – A Bucket Lis

Today I am 29 Years old. Which means I and 365 days away from my 30th birthday.

Since 25, I have sort of dreaded every birthday. 29 being no exception, in fact even more so. I could never exactly pin down WHY i dreaded get closer to 30. Besides the standard.. I am getting Older, but although that does scare me in some ways… that was truly the root of WHY I felt that way.  Until earlier in the month when I finally figured out WHAT it was that bothered me about my 29th birthday and that fact that I am now closing in on 30.

I was sad and anxious about the fact that my life was not where I had hoped and pictured it would be by now.

That doesn’t mean, I don’t love the life I DO have at the moment, it just means I was hoping to have accomplished more and I know all the logical reasons why I am not there yet and I also, know the excuses too. However, after making this relevation about myself and discovering Rachel Hollis (review on her book to come) I decided to make a Bucket List of things I would like to accomplish by the time I turn 30.  This is not my lifetime bucket list (although, I should probably write that out too) and this is the 2018/2019 Goals List I made for myself and will make again in the new year. This is just a list of stuff I want to accomplish Before 30. I’m aware some are superficial, some are going to most likely NOT happen (Breast Reduction & Owning a Home) and some will be hard to obtain; while others can be enriching and empowering. As I accomplish these goals, I will cross items off the list; and I am sure Items will also be added to the list as I go.

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We Tried Home Chef for a Month..

Meal delivery services are pretty popular.. most popular probably being Hello Fresh and then Blue Apron. I have tried the first but not the latter. Last month, I was watching a youtuber I enjoy (KatekaGood) and she mentioned that her and her husband had teamed up with Home Chef and offered viewers a discount code. Because of this; I decided to try it. For a few reasons. 1) I was feeling lazy and uninspired as far as cooking new meals every other night and 2) It’s discounted, so why not?!

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As I had mentioned before we had tried Hello Fresh almost a year and a half ago and only did one week before canceling our subscription. Which was for a few reasons… it seems expensive.. but also, the food felt too fancy for us. Which is always a problem for Andrew and I… as, we are both pretty picky eaters. Although, we may give Hello Fresh a chance again.. we clearly last longer with Home Chef. So Here are our thoughts on it.

You begin the process taking a short survey on your food preferences and then they present you with the menu options they are doing that week, that fit those preferences. You can swap out those if you like something else on that weeks menu. However, we quickly learned that doing that will change your base price. So, we stopped doing that and just had whatever the recommend meals were. Which was a small con for me but was ultimately the big factor for Andrew to have us stop our subscription.  Anyways, after you do that and pick a weekly delivery date. Your Meals arrive in an insulated box and you take care of your meal planning from there. We selected 2 meals a week.

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I am going to start with the Pros of the service.

  •  The fact that we were trying meals we would have never made before and honestly NONE of the meals we had were bad meals.
  • They weren’t super fancy meals, each meal had an ingredient that I didn’t like food/ flavor wise, but could easily be taken out or substituted without the meal falling apart.
  • The Meals were super easy and pretty quick to make.
  • Although, this wasn’t our intention Andrew and I ending up making the meals together and it became a nice bonding activity for us and something I looked forward to on those nights.

The Cons

  • The price changing when selecting different meals
  • Small Portions – The meals usually come with one main protein and one side dish. I understand that the meals are probably made to typical serving size and all that. But normally I get full super quickly, like embarassingly quick; and I found myself still very hungry after the meals.

 

The Price overall is up for debate in regards to Andrew and I . I personally think we saved money as we only spent $50 bucks a week on meals for two of us. I will save, since serving sizes were small, we didn’t have leftover so we still had to “spend money” for meals on days we weren’t using the service provided meals.  Which when we normally make our 2 meals a week, we have leftovers to cover those days.. but we also spend about $150 a week. So, Andrew will have to finish the budget for August to let me know if we ended up saving money or not. BUT for now the subscription is canceled. However, we did enjoy it and if we were not on a budget, we would probably continue to use it. We also will be continuing to make the meals we learned to make this month.

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My Favorite Meal we made was the Pork Tenderloin with Pesto Cream Sauce  and Andrew’s was a tie between the Chicken Stuffed Tacos and Tortilla Chicken.

If you are interested in using Home Chef you can use this link to get $30 off your first order.

 

Book Review: I Am Still Alive

Have you ever just scanned over a books summary and kind of infer what you think the book is about? I totally did that. I first saw this book on Penguin’s First to Read Program, but didn’t get it. From what I read it was a book about a girl surviving in the wilderness and getting revenge and for some reason, I thought it had to do with high schoolers. So I assumed it was like a book about like a mean prank or something and they leave the main character in the woods and she has to fight for survival and then gets revenge.  BUT that is not what this book is about… it is about survival and revenge.. I just for some reason  made up the last part when skimming over the summary. Although, as I type this up.. maybe, i should write that book.. or does it already exist? It probably already exists. Anyways, with that in mind… when I received an e-mail from Penguin/Viking to review I Am Still Alive by Kate Marshall and participate in this blog tour (which upon editing have realized was suppose to go up YESTERDAY and not today.. OOPS!); I quickly said yes, thinking that was what the book was about.  Very quickly into the book however, I realized I was wrong and because it was so apparent in the beginning I wasn’t disappointed by it.

The book follows Jess Cooper who is reconnected with her estranged father after an accident kills her mom and leaves Jess disabled. Jess thinks he father lives in Alaska, but is in for shock when he lives off the grid, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. Jess isn’t a fan of her time there, but is quickly in for a rude awakening when her father is killed and the cabin they live in burned down. She now has to fend for herself and plot revenge against the people who killed her Dad.

The book is told through Jess’ journal and the first half is told in Before the incident and after it. Then also broken down into seasons.  The book is a very quick read, when formatted like this. However, I think you could have done without the concept of her writing in a journal, as that is really all it is a concept, one we only know about cause she mentions it in the beginning but isn’t really executed in the writing style or important to the story line. With how quick paced the book is it only really feels like she has been in the wild for a few weeks not several months and frankly, with all the mistakes she made that would normally prove fatal. Realistically… Jess would not have survived. As far as the revenge part of the book goes.. It isn’t your typical idea of revenge. I would think of it more as trying to survive and a little bit of payback, not a scheme of revenge.

With all that being said.. I DID enjoy the book. It was a quick read that gave me every 80’s and 90’s kids surviving in the wilderness movies nostalgia. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it went into greater depth. More back story of Jess’ life, more backstory of her Dad’s, more time of the two of them together and a few more actual challenges in the wilderness.  I’m Still Alive is a solid 3 star book. Not a bad book but not a book I loved, either.

 

 

 

**I was given this book in exchange for an honest review**

 

 

Patriotic Cupcakes Recipe

As a Mom to a 2 year old & almost 4 month old baby. I am always looking for quick and easy recipes to make… but also, ways to elevate them and make them my own. I want to try and make this series, but not sure what to call it yet.  But for the purpose of making this quick and time efficient as possible for the parent that doesn’t have a lot of time to make everything from scratch this recipe is for you! Obviously, if you want to make the cake from scratch go right ahead.

Full Disclosure though, the frosting I chose for this cupcake is not the easiest.. but it definitely isn’t hard. So of course, if you want to make a buttercream or use the canned frosting.. go right ahead!

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What you will need..

  • White Boxed Cake
  • Red Pop Rocks – Cherry or Strawberry which ever flavor you prefer
  • Mini Marshmallows
  • Blue Gel Food Dye
  • Purple Gel Food Dye
  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Light Corn Syrup
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Blue Sprinkles (Optional)
  • Electric Handheld Mixer (optional)
  • Double Broiler (optional, sort of)

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Now Let’s Begin!

I began with a white boxed cake mix. I chose white because that way it would be easiest to get a nice blue cupcake once baked.  Follow the instructions for the cake on the box and then add your food dye. Make sure to have a regular blue and purple GEL dye. Add a decent a mount of blue dye and then a drop or two of purple. Adding the purple ensures it will stay a darker blue. Once you have baked the cupcakes make sure to put them in the fridge to chill as you make the frosting.

The frosting I used is a Marshmallow frosting. What i like about this frosting is it is light and airy and not overly sweet.  If you have a double broiler than use it here, if not than use two pots on top of each other like a double broiler (be careful) or a heat tempered glass bowl like people use to melt chocolate.

The Recipe

  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/3 Cup Cold Water
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1/2 Tbs. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Mini Marshmallows
  1. Bring water to boil in pot make sure it’s less than half the pot you don’t want the water to touch the bottom of your double broiler/second pot/Glass bowl.
  2. Add Egg Whites, Sugar, Cold Water and Corn Syrup in the pot/bowl that will go on top and mix together. Than lower heat to Med-High and place pot/bowl on top. Using an Electric Mixer (you COULD do this by with a whisk but it will take a lot of arm power and A LOT more time) start mixing the ingredients together until it forms stiff peaks and appears meringue like.
  3. Take off heat and add Marshmallows and Vanilla and Mix together until Marshmallows have melted. Then let sit for a few minutes to cool down.

 

Once everything has cooled down you can follow this extra step. Cut small hole in middle of the cupcakes and add some pop rocks to the middle and then frost the top for a little extra surprise. Or you can just frost the top of the cupcakes and sprinkle the pop rocks on top, as well as the optional blue sprinkles.

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