Sam and Tucker’s Farm Party

I’m finally getting around to posting about Sam and Tucker’s birthday party which was about a month and a half ago.

We did a joint party at our house.  I went with a farm theme because both kids love tractors.

I had most of the food catered from the Market District which was great!  I ordered a ton of mini sandwiches, fried chicken and a caprese salad.  I ended up ordering way too much because I was worried about not having enough.  I think we ended up having about 45 people to the party.

I made a fruit salad to go with the catered food.  In a pig 🙂  Pinterest.


My mother-in-law made a lovely cheese plate:29467310653_148919552d_o

We had the party in the backyard.  The weather ended up being nice but windy. That gazebo came down about 4 times prior to the party…  Aaron ended up nailing and zip tying it directly to the deck.30060354686_67ed052a04_o

I set up a piggy bank painting table for an activity and the favor.  I ordered the piggy banks from Oriental Trading.29980700032_91132278f0_o

We set up a kiddy pool in the yard and the water table.  I made that plaid fabric banner for the party and it’s still hanging outside.  They’re sewn together on a strip of bias tape which made it pretty easy.30011464541_a6f2e4c884_o

Here’s a closer picture of the pig table:


I found these pinwheel straws at Target in the dollar section.  Unfortunately I don’t think most people realized they were straws.  I loved them though.  Target gets me.30011469741_75f0361b09_o

Aaron built this barn for a photo back drop in the yard.


Singing happy birthday:

29980691382_94a4a55ef2_oI tried three different chocolate cupcake recipes to find one I liked.  I ended up using my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the cupcakes.  I also made rice crispy treats (bales of hay) and brownies.


It was a really fun party!  And the gazebo made it until the very end when the wind picked up and it went down 😮


Thumbprint Cookies & The Weekend

It’s Monday!  Friday night we went out to dinner.  Saturday, Aaron left early to go work on our house in the North Side so I took the boys to the Waterfront because we had a couple errands to run.  We took a walk on the trail there and then played with the hola hoops.

Saturday evening we went to a wedding so my in-laws watched the boys.  The wedding was fun!  We were seated with a bunch of my second cousins who didn’t even remember me because they’re all like 10 years younger than me!  I have quite a few second cousins.  Also, I used to babysit the girl who got married.

I wore a red dress.  I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of bright colors.  However, I am a fan of off the shoulder straps.  Two people asked me if I made the dress.  I did not.  Someday maybe.  Right now, lining things like this seems to be over my skill level.imag9732_25103589254_o

Sunday was pretty uneventful.  Aaron took the boys to breakfast and I did a bit of sewing and thinking about the fact that we’re moving in two weeks and haven’t started packing yet.

I made these thumbprint cookies  from Brown Eyed Baker (she’s a Pittsburgh blogger) for the wedding cookie table.  I followed the recipe almost exactly except I added a little extra milk to the dough because it seemed a little dry. (This may have been because I use vanilla bean paste instead of regular vanilla extract.) But they were really good!  I didn’t have any dutch process cocoa so I used Hershey’s Special Dark which was surprisingly good.  Regular Hershey’s cocoa powder is not good.


Also, I didn’t take them out midway through baking and press the indentation again like the recipe said.


I bought blue sprinkles in the bulk bins at the grocery store.  I doubled the recipe for the dough and the frosting and it made exactly 6 dozen.  Apparently thumbprints are a Pittsburgh thing?  I had no idea.  But definitely make these!  Thumbprints are my favorite cookies. Mainly I like frosting.  And sprinkles.  So sugar.  I like sugar.


It’s Thursday!

Last night I made pork tenderloin for dinner.  It’s one of those recipes where you brown the meat on the stove then put the pan in the oven to finish cooking.  So I browned the meat and then put it in the 400 degree oven.  I took it out when it was done and set it on the cutting board.  Took the pork out of the pan and put it on a plate then… grabbed the HOT pan handle.

So we took a family trip to MedExpress at 730 last night. womp womp

imag8619_24216045750_oSam didn’t go to preschool today because I had no motivation to get the kids dressed, fed and out the door by 845 this morning.

By 11AM, we were all going stir crazy though so we took a trip to the JCC to play in their family place and I packed a lunch for us.


Sam did some quiet reading when we got home and I documented it.  LOOK HOW PEACEFUL HE IS. It lasted a couple minutes.imag8626_24498196486_o.jpg

And lastly, Sam and I made Healthy Banana Muffins a few days ago and they were delicious!  We made them into about 20 mini muffins.imag8591_24384974741_o

Tonight there will be NO cooking.  Burns HURT.  It’s like on a pain scale of 1 to 10, 10 being child birth, burns get a proper 7/8.

Happy Thursday to you!  Do like Sam suggests and “have a party and get a wine.”

Weekly Meal Plan #1

I’ve been really trying to meal plan lately because it saves us money on groceries and it also results in me actually cooking rather than us eating cereal or sandwiches or eating out for dinner.

I hate throwing food away so usually if I buy the specific groceries for a recipe, I’ll make it.  I usually check my Pinterest recipe board, my bookmarks and I’ve also been reading Budget Bytes and picking three or four recipes to try.

All of the recipes below are new to me except for the lentil and vegetable soup which we really liked.  Homemade pizza is on the menu for us a lot because we all like pizza, it’s cheap and relatively easy and I usually have the ingredients on hand.  I make the dough in our bread machine and I’m planning to post that recipe.

MondaySalsa Chicken Casserole – Budget Bytes

Tuesday: Lentil and Vegetable Soup – Budget Bytes

Cornbread Muffins –

Wednesday: Kung Pao Chicken with rice- Budget Bytes

Thursday: Homemade Pizza & Salad (or tacos and salad)

Snacks:  Peanut Butter Choc. Chip Granola Bars – Glorious Treats

Garlic-Dill Refrigerator Pickles – The Kitchn

Note: Fridays and Saturdays we usually eat out (one of the two days) or eat whatever we can find in the house.  The leftovers from these meals are almost always consumed for lunch the next day.  Aaron usually comes home for lunch and Sam and I always have lunch at home.  Sundays we have dinner at church.

Breakfasts are usually eggs and toast for me.  Sam has whole wheat pancakes or french toast plus scrambled eggs and fruit or oatmeal and fruit.

I hope this gives you some recipe ideas!  I’d love for you to give me links to your favorite recipes or just recipes that you want to try!  I’m always looking for ideas.

A few random things:

Sam and I shared a snow cone yesterday at the farmer’s market.

I’m about half done cutting in the white color in Sam’s future bedroom.

I bought a bed skirt for $2 at a thrift store yesterday for our bedroom:

The battle continues in me and the tomato plant vs. deer.  They took a few bites out of the top of my plant so I added some more fence and used up all my kitchen twine.


A few of my absolute favorite recipes

We’re back from Florida!  Sam and I got home yesterday and we’re slowly getting back into our routine.  I’m going to post about the trip with some pictures soon but in the meantime, I thought I’d post links to some of my favorite recipes that I make again and again.


Oven Fajitas — Budget Bytes

I follow this recipe exactly except I use red, orange or yellow peppers instead of green because I don’t like green peppers.  I also skip the onion powder in the seasoning because I never have any.

Curried Lentil Soup — Epicurious

I use white beans instead of chickpeas, skip the green onions and add extra carrots.  I also usually double this recipe so we have leftovers.  It freezes well.

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup – SouthernFood

I add extra carrots and celery, use dried parsley and mini ravioli or tortellini for the noodles.  If I don’t have seasoned salt, I just use regular salt.  I often use frozen chicken breasts and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew –

Sometimes I use sweet potatoes in place of regular potatoes and only 1.5 pounds beef stew meat.  I prefer to cook it on low in the slow cooker for 10-12 hours.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake — Epicurious

The BEST chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted.  I use dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet, vanilla bean paste, canola oil in place of vegetable, whole buttermilk (no substitutions) and I weigh the ingredients.  I also bake in 3-9″pans.  I don’t make the ganache frosting but make a regular chocolate buttercream.