November 20, 2014

Christmas wishing

We all know I'm slightly narcissistic when it comes to wish lists. I have no problem making personal wish lists and sharing them with the world via my blog. (Now please don't think I'm walking around dropping hints to my family members every time we're together. That is NOT my style.)

But the blog IS a fun way to pretend that we will find a handful of cash in our winter coats and John will decide to spend it all on my Christmas wish list. :) And this year? There's no vaccums. Nothing that benefits the house or the cleaning closet or the rest of the family. Nope, this years wish list is straight up for M -  E - ME.

ONE: New kicks  This stay-at-home mama works best in sneakers. Flats are cute and all, but they don't cut it when you're chasing a wild toddler and simultaneously feeding a screaming baby in the Target parking lot. in the rain. with a cart with a crazy wheel. These New Balance 574 sneakers are cute without looking like a running shoe.

TWO: Lisa Leonard Stacking Rings  I just love Lisa Leonard's jewelry. Pretty much anything on her website in pewter or sterling silver is a winner in my book. These stacking rings with my babies names would be a sweet addition to my jewelry box.

THREE: The Barrington St. Anne Tote  Roomy, a classic design and four season friendly. The ultimate mom bag in my opinion. You can personalize these in any colors and designs that you want (the black and brown herribone? LOVE IT!) AND they have a monogram option. WINNER.

FOUR: Target's ovesized Zara-copycat scarf  Because everyone else is wearing this print this season, so why shouldn't I? No but really, I love that this scarf is oversized (aka WARM) and the colors make it really versatile. Yes please!

FIVE: A monogrammed pullover  In pink, to match those new kicks above. :) Along with jeans and comfy sneaks, this is my ideal mom outfit.

Now it's time to dream along with me!
What's on your ultimate wish list?

November 17, 2014

Make it Monday

I've been in such a breakfast rut recently. I'm tired of oatmeal, I don't do eggs, breakfast bars never fill me up and I have no self-control when it comes to cereal. (no really, I eat like five serving sizes at a time!) Today I'm sharing a tasty recipe that may just become a new breakfast staple around here.

The pin originates from Power Hungry's blog. You can find the original recipe here. The recipe below is the recipe as sourced from Power Hungry's post with my changes noted in italics.

Flax-based Breakfast Cookies
2/3 cup flaxseed meal (aka ground flaxseed)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or whatever nut butter you prefer)
1/3 cup honey/agave nectar/maple syrup/other liquid sweetener (I used honey)
1/3 cup plain almond milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I actually used 1 Tablespoon of a cinnamon sugar mixture)
2/3 cup raisins (I only had golden raisins so that's what went into my muffins)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray. 
(I didn't have any nonstick spray in the house so I just melted a tablespoon of butter and slathered each cup with the melted butter.)

 2. In a large bowl combine the flaxseed meal, peanut butter, honey, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. After these are combined, fold in your raisins.
(I looked at my muffin batter and thought "no way will this make 12 muffins." Because I like to add my own ingredients, I added a 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats to the mixture before transferring it to the muffin cups.)

3. Evenly divide the batter into your prepared muffin cups.

 4. Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown and muffins appear dry.
(My oven took a full 30 minutes. I know it doesn't look much different, but if you look closely at the photo below you can see those golden brown edges.) 

5. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

 A few notes:
*These were really tasty warm! I suggest popping them into the microwave for 10-15 seconds before you eat them each morning.

*The muffin batter is very thick. If you just dallop the dough into the muffin tins and don't use a spoon/spatula to even out the tops, you'll get wonky looking muffins like I have here. I like to call the one below "the beanbag chair." Appearance doesn't make a difference to me, but next time I'll probably smooth out the muffins before I bake them so they look a little prettier.

November 14, 2014

Luke's 3rd Birthday

After sharing about how we budget for birthdays, I suddenly realized that I never shared the pictures from Luke's third birthday! Our sweet, spunky boy turned three on July 31st. To celebrate, we invited Luke's best buddies, his cousins and his beloved Nana to our local swim club for a pool party. I'll let the pictures do the talking!
 It cracked me up how most of the kids wanted to hang in the baby pool!
 Meet cousin Paige, aka Luke's hero. 
There's nobody he gets more excited for than his Paigey.
 Cousins Claire and Wyatt were brave and took to the water slides right away!
 Mrs Theresa, Cara, Mrs Erin and Ellie
These are some of Luke's very first friends and we are so thankful for each one of them!
Even though this was a pool party, I did stick to a Thomas the Train theme. 
I kept things easy and did pre-made Thomas invites, paper products and decor. 
This party required absolutely NO crafting and took approximately 15 minutes to set up. 
And I think I enjoyed this year's birthday party the most of any year thus far!
 Party favors were reusable Thomas cups filled with Thomas temporary tattoos, mini bubble wands, Thomas fruit snacks and Thomas whistles. (Everything was purchased at Party City!)  
 Dollar Tree banners and balloons make perfect pool party decor.
 The food was simple: pb&j and pimento cheese samis (cut with a train cookie cutter!)
and various kid-friendly snacks, each in it's own individual train car.
The train cars were reusable mini loaf pans with oreo "wheels."
Simple and easy!
Luke's love language is juice boxes.
This boy was in high heaven with an endless supply of boxed fruit juice!
 Make a wish!
 Luke wasn't the only one excited about cupcakes!
 Happy 3rd Birthday Luke!
You are such a sweet-natured soul and I am so blessed to be your mama!

November 12, 2014

31 Days of Frugal Living: Day Seven

Today's frugal living tip is a simple one: 
 Set a budget for all of your parties.

John and I have been on a very strict budget for three years now. For each birthday party we set a budget, usually around $50 (including food). I think we may have exceeded that budget for Luke's first birthday (feeding a ton of people was expensive!) but we've kept it under $100-- food, invites, even our gifts to Luke-- every year since.

Georgia Kate's first birthday is rapidly approaching (tear!) and I'm sticking to our $100 birthday budget again. Here are some of the ways I've found to keep kids birthday parties in budget.

1. Make your own invitations.
Custom birthday invites are so cute. But don't forget-- IT'S GOING TO GO INTO THE TRASH. Don't waste a lot of money on the invitations. I detailed how I make my birthday invites here.

2. Plan the party during times that aren't meal times.
If you plan a party for the noon hour, plan to feed both the kids and the adults their lunch. If you want to cut costs, try the 10:00am or 2:00pm birthday party. These mid-day times encourage more of a snacks and cupcakes menu.

3. Get crafty!
Let it be stated that I take little to no credit for the originality of my party decorations. I simply pinned ideas I liked and copied them! You can make your own decorations- things like buntings, banners, and cupcake toppers- far cheaper than you can buy them.
A Sharpie, some cardstock, a pair of scissors and my sewing machine 
were all I needed to make this bone decor for Luke's Clifford party.

4. Scale down the invite list.
 John and I agreed when Luke was a baby that our children would have "big" first birthday parties. For the inaugural birthday we want to include everyone that helped us make it through the first year -- family, friends, neighbors and our church family. But for the remaining birthday parties? We agreed to keep it small. Just our kid's friends. For us, playdate-style parties keep the budget in check and keep the party focused on the child.

5. Don't go overboard.
This is something I constantly have to tell myself when it comes to my kids. I want to do every single idea I see on Pinterest. The toy-filled pinata, the monogrammed party favors, the rented inflatables for the kids. Yes, those things are super fun, but really? They're not necessary. Kids come to parties to hang with their friends and eat cake. Keep it simple.

November 5, 2014

31 Days of Frugal Living: Day Six

Like I mentioned on Monday, I'm going to try and complete my "31 Days of Frugal Living" series before the end of 2014. I can't find the time to shower everyday; who was I kidding thinking I could blog everyday for 31 days?! But I will do 31 days on the topic of frugal living. So here's another installment, day six of

Today's tip is a simple one:  
Shop for the holidays after the holidays. 
Let me explain.

Remember that precious bear costume Luke was wearing in yesterday's post? I bought it last year, as part of Targets post-Halloween 75% off clearance. I paid just under $6. Yep, $6. I couldn't make a costume for that price. (And if you're wondering, Georgia Kate's costume came from a consignment sale. I paid $7 for it.)

I know that I won't always be able to shop a year ahead for Halloween. As Luke gets older and becomes more opinionated, I'll likely stop shopping the post-holiday clearance sections for his costume. At least for now I enjoy picking out the cutest Halloween costumes I can find, all at mega deals.

In the same token, I also shop after-holiday specials for other items. I've scored Halloween costumes, Christmas decor, and way too much Easter candy at a fraction of the regular retail price. So if there's something you really want, say a giant inflatable Santa for your roof? Then get to Target on December 26th. ;)