Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Weston is 6: A Pizza Party

My baby boy turned 6 this month and it has me feeling two things.

1.  sad because he's not such a little boy anymore


2.  Excited at this new phase of life we are entering.

While I enjoyed the baby, toddler, and preschool years, I love this new phase where they are a bit more independent, they help in the kitchen, they have chores, they like to go on adventures.  It really is a fun time!

Weston is my social butterfly.  He has made some really good friends both at church and at school and I knew he was going to want to invite as many as possible.  Because of that, we decided to do a friends party at our local California Pizza Kitchen.  Almost all of the kids we invited came and it ended up being so much fun!  I designed this invitation based on something similar I saw on Pinterest.  I wanted more color and really loved the pizzas that came with the artwork I bought off etsy. 
I went super simple with decorations.  I put red, plastic table cloths on the table and then each kid gets a CPK pizza box to decorate and a small pack of crayons.  I also made signs that go in each two sided frame.  I really liked these frames because they stand straight up and are perfect for table centerpieces.  I also put several packs of crayons in red and white striped paper cups, so the kids had more color options when they started decorating their boxes.  Then I tied some balloons to the end of the tables. I also found the cutest felt pizza banner at Target a few days before and it was the perfect little piece of pizzaz. 

Our favors were super simple treat bags filled with mini wooden rolling pins and some mini playdoh containers.  Weston loves playing with play doh, so it was fun to give away something that is special as a way of saying thank you for coming.
We also started a tradition several years ago to give a book that goes with the theme.  We have it out, so that our guests can sign it and write something nice or encouraging in that he will find later.  I got a few kids to sign it and some grandparents to sign it at our family gathering, but other than that I failed!  It's still the cutest book and it fit perfect with our pizza theme.
These boys were kept so busy!  First, they all went on a tour of the kitchen, where they got to see all the behind the scenes fun!  They all crammed into the freezer and smelled fish.  Then they split into two groups.  One group came back and played pin the pepperoni on the pizza and the other group went and made their pizzas.  Then they switched.  While they ate their pizza, they played pizza Bingo and got a pizza tossing lesson (HUGE HIT!).  We opened presents and ate ice cream sundaes and then it was time to go. 

 Having a party at California Pizza Kitchen was awesome!  The kids were very entertained.  They let us bring in Weston's special cheese and they brought him a brownie instead of ice cream.  We ordered a couple of pizzas so that the parents could munch if they wanted to.  Weston was given a chef's jacket, but he was so proud of his 6 shirt that he wouldn't put it on.   The staff was so patient and kind, and I didn't have to clean up any messes!  I actually felt a little guilty just walking away.  It was so weird not having something to do after the party was over.

Invitation designed by me, using artwork from Erin Bradley Designs 
  I printed them through greetings, by Costco.  They were double sided cardstock with rounded corners.  I was really impressed by the printing! 

Banner: Spritz, for Target

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Connection Time: Let's chat

Hello all!  Happy Wednesday!  It's Wednesday, right?  We have had 3 three day weekends in a row and I am so confused on what day it is and how short my weeks have been.  Maybe in March, I will get back into a routine.  Anyways, I think it's time we took time to chat.  It's been so busy around here this month, with our youngest celebrating his sixth birthday, a field trip, Valentine's Day, and enjoying some extra family time.  I hope that this month has been a good one!
Aren't these the cutest Valentines?!?!  A sweet friend of mine's daughter is in Weston's class and they whipped these up for the whole class.  We love them and Weston has been playing tic tac toe so much.  I think these will be put in our travel box for this summer's vacation. 
There was some nerf gun action this weekend during a short break in the rain storm that came thru.  Ethan built towers with plastic cups and we shot them down! 
So, go grab your coffee, tea, or whatever you fancy and let's chat.  I love connecting with others and I think that's so important.  I can't wait to hear what you all are up to. 

Outside my window lemons are begging to be picked, the sky is blue with fluffy white clouds and there is a slight breeze.  Our plum tree is full of white flowers and our tulip tree is in full bloom.  We are enjoying a few rain free days before it starts up again. 

I am thinking of all the things that I need to get done, but am realizing that it's not the end of the world if it doesn't all get done today.  I am going to take time to savor and enjoy!

From the kitchen There are some lemon poppy seed muffins that I made the other night.  They make a great grab and go breakfast because we seem to be having a hard time getting out the door on time (please tell me I'm not alone here!).  I am also going to make some bread for dinner to accompany our asparagus and grilled chicken skewers.  I want to do some baking, but I don't think I am going to have time today. 

I am wearing yoga pants and a sweatshirt, but I just bought a new tshirt from Madewell and I am in love.

I am creating. . . hmmm. . . I have some plans on working on my new Paper Pumpkin kit that arrived yesterday and work on the office.  It's still a work in progress, but I need to start going through some boxes so we don't trip on our way to the couch. 

I am going to Disneyland soon and I can't wait.  I also get to see my sister and nephew, because they are coming, too! 

I am reading I am starting the fourth book in the English Garden series, by Lori Wick.  When it comes to fiction I just can't put them down.  I need to get it read, though because March is a non fiction book month and those are just a bit harder for me to sit and read.  I need stories. 

I am hoping to make an IKEA run soon.  It's dangerous, but it must be done.  There are a few finishing touches we need to make on the office that will help get some of the stuff off the floor and then I can start the trim. . . and then move on to painting the boys' bedroom.

I am hearing the Disney Pandora station playing in the background and apparently the heat kicked on.  The wind was so cool this morning! 

Around the House are signs that the kids spent their weekend creating things with Legos, Quixels, Shrinky Dinks, Spin Art, Marker Making, and play dough.  It's time to put things away and make way for the week. 

One of my favorite things right now I am absolutely loving my new Madewell Tshirt and this creamer.  Oops, that's two things.  Oh well. 

A few plans for the week are to keep up with my daily chores around the house and go out to lunch and read a book, it's a new thing I am trying and deserves a whole blog post to itself.  Stay tuned.

What I am listening to completely obsessed with the music from Moana.  We will be buying the movie, but for now I am listening to it via Spotify.  It's just so good!

Now, it's your turn.  Go ahead and pick one, two, or as many as you want and comment in the comments, on Facebook, or instagram.  Let's connect and have a conversation! 

Outside my window
I am thinking
From the kitchen
I am wearing
I am creating
I am going
I am reading
I am hoping
I am hearing
Around the House
One of my favorite things
A few plans for the week
What I am listening to 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Lego Valentines {Free Printable}

Things are really busy around here as we get ready for Valentines Day.  I feel like as much as I always try to not to procrastinate, but it always happens.  Good thing I work best under pressure. That and the kiddos don't have school today, which makes these the perfect things to work on while hanging around in our comfies, watching tv, playing and working on valentines.  But, while the kids are filling out labels to put on the back with to's and from's, let me share this year's valentines with you.

This past fall, when we were at the Lego Store in Downtown Disney, I picked up the brick ice cube tray mold because I knew that we would still be doing crayon legos, but I was going to have to do twice as many because we now have both kids in school.  That's a good excuse, right?

Last month, I started melting crayons from our crayon stash (we keep a stash of crayons that are broken, dull, and haven been replaced by newer, crayons) in preparation for this year's crayons.  I am really glad I started early, but now I have 150 of these lovely crayons and as I think back to it, it wasn't a lot of work.  Just one or two batches here and there and it added up quick!  I then designed a quick insert for the bags and sent it to office max for printing.  Super easy and so much fun!

I know that tomorrow is Valentines Day, so you might not have enough time to make some of these, but feel free to pin for next year!

Crayon tutorial 

Last year's lego Crayon Valentine 

Heart shaped crayon printable. . . just click on the crayon tutorial link above. 

You can find the link to this year's Valentine Lego Printable here.

Click here to Pin this idea to your Pinterest Board.

Have a very happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

What's For Dinner? {January 2017}

I can remember sitting around a table full of family members that I had only just met.  We were eating the most delicious cauliflower soup on the most beautiful dishes in a home that was filled with family and friends.  These family members opened their home to my grandparents and I with such love and hospitality, I will never forget.  We were the outsiders. We were visiting family in Norway for the first time.  We didn't speak the language and yet, we were still able to have some conversation.  I can remember a cousin asking what we did for dinners in America.  They had read about American's eating out a lot and wondering if that was what my family at home did also.  I assured her that we sat down as a family on most nights to a home cooked meal, but it was at that time, I realized how blessed I was to be able to have that experience in my home.  I also have kept that memory very clear in my mind because I want to make sure my family sees the importance of sitting around the table together. 

That's why I do these posts.   Sometimes dinner can be mundane and exhausting and it is easier just to throw food at your kids and put on a movie (yes, this does happen on occasion at my house).   I want to share recipes that my family (or my husband and I. . . kids are tricky!) enjoyed, so that you can be inspired to make something different and fun to sit around your table and talk about your day with your family.

January was an interesting month at our house.  We threw a party, got ready for another party, got back into the swing of things with school starting and then it was budget time (a.k.a the hubby works really late. . . a lot).  So, that being said,  I don't have a ton if recipes to share, but I do have some.  But, I'm going to throw in some from December because they were so good, and I never got around to doing last month's 'what's for dinner' post.

 It was really hard to menu plan last month and so it took us 3 weeks to go through one week's plan, but some months are like that. I do feel like we got to eat some really good food, so I'm okay that some months are like that. 

 When Jon works late or is out of town, I don't make a whole lot of extravagant meals.  The kids eat a lot of their favorite foods: chicken nuggets, hot dogs, naan pizzas, pizza roll ups, little smokies in a blanket, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, meatballs and sauce, egg rolls, pot stickers.

I also purposely plan meals each week that are a variation of simple, fun, and challenging.  I don't always have the energy (some days are just plum busy!) or desire to make something completely from scratch and so we always have on hand some chicken breasts and some Indian simmer sauces that we find at Costco  and we have some Trader Joe's Orange Chicken in the freezer.  Oh, and we always have stuff for tacos and spaghetti, because they are pretty much awesome and no one complains. ever. It's a win for me if no one complains!

This month, our favorite new recipes were the following:

 Baked Honey Lemon Chicken
Our lemon tree is overflowing, so this recipe was a great way to use some of our stash.  I loved that it used cornstarch to help give the chicken the crispiness, but I also appreciated the "baked" part, because that allows me to multi task, and get some other things done or deal with the kids and homework.  Jon unexpectedly worked late when I made this, and he still really enjoyed it reheated!

Grilled Chicken Teriyaki Salad
This salad was delicious!  It was so cool and refreshing, even though it was January and cold and rainy!  It felt so good to eat a salad, that I couldn't wait for the leftovers the next day! Jon was a bit skeptic when I was telling him what we were having, but he approved and we will most likely have this again!

Satay Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce
This recipe is one of those that you just can't wait to eat the leftovers.  You might not even want to tell your spouse there are left overs because it was amazing!  It was amazing the first night.  It was amazing the second night.  These were easy, aside from skewering. . . that's just labor intensive, but you can do it ahead of time and just take them out when you are done.  I did these on the grill and possibly froze my tush off, but it was worth it!  This is definitely a win in our house!

One Pan Sausage and Veggies

This recipe is from last fall.  I loved it so much that I've made it a bunch of times already.  In fact, it's on the menu for this week because I loved it so much.  It's also really versatile.  I just grab some sausage (Trader Joe's makes some great flavors and so does Aidells) and then I just grab some veggies.  My favorites are red potatoes, beans, peppers, mushrooms, brussel sprouts.  I just sort of grab a couple and then follow the recipe.  Plus, it's another one that you can just prep, throw in the oven, and then go read a book, drink a glass of wine, or deal with whatever homework situation is happening that night.  It is definitely a go to recipe and makes a rotation at least once a month now!

And that's what's been going on in our kitchen, at least for dinner.  What have you been making?  Send me some inspiration. . . anything your family just loves right now?  What is your favorite part about sitting around the table with your family?

1 / 2 / 3/ 4

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Yesterday, I had a moment in the car between the phone beeping horrible beeping noises and then the blue tooth picking it up and doing it too. . . all while going through a drive thru.  I had forgotten my phone likes to alert me when crazy things may (or most likely won't) happen.  Apparently, in the area that I was at there was a flash flood warning.  There was no rain at that particular moment, but apparently there was a flood alert.  It certainly gave me a scare because I wasn't expecting it!

It's been raining on and off here for over a month.   We have kind of forgotten what rain really is like because we have been in a very serious drought, and when it did rain it was at night so we couldn't enjoy it.  This has been nice.  However, the kids are going a tad stir crazy.  Poor Weston got a new scooter for his birthday and it took 4 days before he could ride it because of weather craziness. 

Don't get me wrong, our area has seen flooding, but mostly because our drainage systems are just not mean for lots of rain water.  I've seen some awesome Facebook posts of some friends kayaking down their street.  Trust me.  We are enjoying this craziness.

 Last week, I decided that we had had so many rainy day schedules that the kids teachers really could use some chocolate.  Chocolate is medicine for the soul.  It really is.  Especially, when you are trapped in a room with 20 restless kids who just need to get their wiggles out.

So, I set out for some experimenting.  And it worked.  They came out and they were delicious.  We joked about how they were kind of like blobs of poop.  But, who said cookies had to look pretty to taste delicious?  I know the writer over at Smitten Kitchen just posted a cookie recipe for ugly cookies.  No joke.  These ones aren't quite ugly, but they aren't pretty either.  They did, however, get rave reviews.  Ethan's teacher said she couldn't stop eating them and suddenly they were all gone!  So, they are delicious! 

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
adapted from Kirbie's Cravings

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cake flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 410 degrees F. 

Line your favorite cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. 
Cream together butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs and beat well.  Slowly add your dry ingredients in and mix until combined.  Add chocolate chips and stir to get them mixed in.  Chill for about 15 minutes (I know. . . torture!). 

Using cookie scoop, scoop leaving cookies at least 2 inches apart.  Push down on them a little using your palm.  They don't really spread a whole lot, so this helps them look less like poop (Insert emoji laughing and crying here. . . it's true!).  Bake for 7-8 minutes and let sit on your baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving them to a wire wrack. 


Friday, February 03, 2017


The other day, I saw an instagram post about surviving on coffee and dry shampoo.  That pretty much sums up this week.  It's been crazy week celebrating our baby errr. . . now 6 year old.  And working on birthday party stuff along with working on the office and finishing a quilt.  So, I thought I would share some of my works in progress with you really quick before I get back to cleaning the house for a family birthday party tomorrow.  

Weston's Quilt
I've been working on this quilt for at least 3 years.  All I had to do was put on the border, baste, quilt, and bind.  I got as far as quilt yesterday and realized that I made a big mistake and so right now it is in the hands of my mom (who is just amazing at fabric!).  I am hoping that it will be done by Saturday, but it might not and so he'll just have to get an I.O.U.  
 Operation Office Makeover
I officially almost finished painting (less than a foot by foot square that I couldn't get to).  I put on a Disney Hits playlist and blared it loud while I painted.  Last weekend, we put the desk together and some of the storage pieces so I could paint the other half of the room.  Now that it's done, we just finished hanging the curtains and moving the couch back to it's home.  Our vision is starting to come to life and it's exciting. . . and exhausting.  But, I think it's going to be a room where people want to hang on it.  

Magnolia Leaves
I have been dreaming about decorating with Magnolia foliage ever since I saw an instagram post by @thenester.  Our street is lined with beautiful Magnolia trees. . . except our house and it just sort of felt awkward to bring my ladder and cut trimmings off trees that aren't my yard (even if it's the city's property).  But, yesterday, on the way to school, we noticed the city was trimming the Magnolia's not far from where my kiddos go to school.  So, since we were a little early (unbelievable!), we walked out of the way a little bit to get some clippings.  I carried these clippings all the way to school, dropped off my kids at their lines and walked home with a handful of these beautiful branches.  I'm pretty sure people thought I was crazy.  Weston's teacher's first thought was that it was Weston's 100 day project.  Ha ha ha!  

And that pretty much sums up my week.  Are you working on anything?  Are you trying to accomplish something you've been working on for years and just set aside because other things came up?  Don't give up.  Keep pressing in! 


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