Friday, September 30, 2011

Halloween 1st Birthday Party

I can't believe the time is here, my son's 1st birthday party! Where has the year gone??? What happened to my little 4 pounds 12 ounces baby? It feels just like yesterday, when I wrote the post about his birth. His birthday is officially October 25th so I thought a Halloween 1st birthday party would be a fun theme to have. We can have spooky food and all dress up! I tried to googled "Halloween 1st Birthday" and found nothing! Which surprises me! It has always seemed to me that a lot of kids are born in the month of October. I thought there would be larger market for decorations for 1st birthday Halloween parties, but there is not.

Thanks to Pinterest and the power of google I have settled on the theme of spiders. Why spiders? I wanted something somewhat scary, but not too over the top. A baby's first Halloween is always so cute, but I like the idea of keeping the traditional scary Halloween. However, I understand that I can't get too scary. I don't want my child to have a traumatic 1st birthday party! So my major inspiration for choosing spiders is this picture:I mean how cute is this? I ran across this picture on Pinterest. I thought it would be super cute for Aiden's first birthday cake. I decided he can have his own large cupcake and do with it what he likes. (Which will probably mean trying to feed it to the dog, but since it's chocolate the dog will have to be put outside.)

For the guests, I think it would be great for each of them to have their own cupcakes:source

I think I will make the legs out of chocolate covered pretzels.

I found this invitation online, I love the wording and the layout so I think I will use it for my inspiration when I create my own.
source

I am usually an evite girl, but decided that because the invitation will have photos of Aiden through the months that it might be nice for people to have an actual paper invite...if I can get them ordered in time!

And for decorations, I was thinking something like this on my chandelier:
source

I thought making some sort of banner like this wouldn't be too difficult. I can then add it something about his "1st Birthday".
source

This one is pretty cute too, and either of them hanging over my large doorway would look nice.
source

For the centerpiece, I thought this looked really cute and easy,source

but then I was thinking of a giant pumpkin turned into a spider would really fit the theme.source

This place setting is super cute! I love the number 1 on the plate.
source

However, I was thinking maybe a napkin with the number one on it and making these spider web plates might fit the guest's cupcakes better. Plus, I could use the plates again for Halloweens to come!
source

Then again, we have a big trip this month so I am sure that I will run out of time and just end up purchasing these from Target:
And I will probably incorporate this somewhere in the decorations and maybe the invitation.
source

And I am sure there will be giant spider somewhere outside my house:
source

And the food....

Deviled Egg Eyeballs
source

Mummy Hot Dogs
source

Pumpkin Veggie Tray
source

Spider Meatballs
source

Or if I run out of time, Eyeball Meatballs in a crockpot

source

And maybe some soup in a pumpkin!
source

The ideas are endless!

As for his costume, I could decide what to dress him up as, so I let him decide. I printed out 6 different pictures of costumes and put them on the floor and told him to pick. We did it five times and he picked the same costume 4 out of the 5 times. It's a surpise what he will be, but I am sure he will look handsome (can't say cute any more because he is getting to big) in no matter what he picked.

I just can't believe that he is almost one! We have been blessed with a very happy little boy, who has good health, and been the joy of our lives. It's true what they say, having a kid changes everything, but I say it changes everything for the better! I just can't imagine life without him now! I am a little sad that my baby has grown up so fast, but I look forward to seeing him grow and discover new things! So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my not so little baby Aiden!

~Beth



Thursday, September 29, 2011

German Chocolate Pumpkin Cookies

Here I am, 7 o'clock at night and totally craving some cookies. I have been seeing this post on Pinterest of Pumpkin Spice Cookies made with just 1 box of spice cake and 1 can of pumpkin. It's been very intriguing to me lately...can you really make good cookies that quick?? Unfortunately, I don't plan on going to the store to buy a box of spice cake mix, so I decided to try something of my own.
The only cake mix I have in the house is German Chocolate, so I thought....chocolate & pumpkin...ehhh let's try it! I mixed the cake mix and pumpkin together and tasted it. To my surprise it was TOTALLY DELICIOUS! I decided to add in some chocolate chips to give a little more chocolate flavor. I dropped spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and baked them at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

It is the perfect cookie recipe for you really busy moms out there! Your family will never know how easy these cookies are to make and they will thank you for "slaving over the stove, baking for them all evening."

I think you can probably make these cookies with really any type of box cake on hand. Just some ideas I have been thinking of:

Pumpkin + White Cake Mix + Rolled in Cinnamon & Sugar = Pumpkin Snickerdoodle
Pumpkin + Yellow Cake Mix + Raisins = Pumpkin Cake (like carrot cake) Cookie
Pumpkin + Butter Pecan Cake Mix + Sprinkled With Powdered Sugar = Pumpkin Pecan Cookies
Pumpkin + Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix + Walnuts = Pumpkin Walnut Brownie Cookies
Pumpkin + Devil's Food Cake Mix = The Devil's Pumpkin Cookies

I am sure the possibilities are endless! If any of you try this or if you have any of your own easy cookie recipe, I would love to hear it! Just comment below. Happy baking!

The Skinny: 36 @ 102 calories each (the german chocolate cookies)

~Beth

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cleaning Queen Tip #1: Cleaning Toilet Rings without Chemicals

This post is dedicated to our mother, the cleaning queen. As long as we can remember, our Mom has always had some crazy cleaning tips that work like magic! To this day, we still bring over our laundry to have her get a spot out or ask her for tips on those hard to clean items. She always has a recommendation that works 99% of the time. We thought it would be nice to share some of her genius cleaning tips periodically. Thanks Mom for all you have done for us over the years!

Today's' Tip:
Cleaning Hard Water Toilet Rings without Chemicals!

When we first moved into our new house, we had toilet rings in ALL of the toilets. The house was on the market for 2 years and completely empty, so no one took care of cleaning and flushing the toilets. With the hard rural water we have, we ended up with really bad toilet rings in all the toilets.

After multiple types of chemicals and scrubbing to no end, I still could not get remove the hard water ring. I was complaining to my Mom about it one day, and she suggested a pumice stone.You can use an old one you have had around the house (don't use it on your feet after the toilet) or go buy a new one from Walmart for $0.80.
Just don your rubber gloves and lightly rub on the ring with the pumice stone. Don't rub too hard, because you could scratch your toilet. It's amazing and the ring will vanish before you eyes!
No chemicals, no smells, no mess....just a nice clean toilet with no hard water ring!
Do you have any awesome cleaning tips you would like to share? If so, comment below. We would love to hear any ideas to make cleaning easier!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - OPI Shades: Espresso Yourself and Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous

My Sophistication Muse,
Audrey Hepburn Photo Source

Sophistication Sunday revolves around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

...

Well the fall is officially here and I am celebrating with the return of darker, richer nail colors. Yes you can certainly rock dark nails during the summer but I like to save certain shades to match my mood and the current season.

Today's post is about a new favorite OPI shade and another OPI shade I was quite disappointed in. That doesn't happen very often but I figured I should mention it when it does happen!

First I will go over the bad news.

I found a picture on Pinterest of OPI's Espresso Yourself and thought it would be PERFECT for Fall!


I loved the rich brown shade and of course the fine glitter. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it! I ordered it from Amazon (which I've found is the more affordable way to buy OPI!) and tried it the day it arrived in the mail.

I guess my biggest disappointment with this is that it is not glittery. It looks NOTHING like the photo above. I researched the OPI Espresso Yourself by looking up swatches via Google images and they all seemed to come up with this nice, sparkly look.

In reality this is what the color looks like:



Now don't get me wrong I do think it's beautiful but after all the other swatches I found that resembled the first picture (like here) I was surprised by the outcome. What can I say, I love my glitter!

Aside from the glitter factor I also noticed that this brown, while pretty, was a very red-based brown. So much so that in some lights it resembled one of my other favorite OPI shades, Royal Ruby Rajah:


I adore Royal Ruby Rajah but if I knew the OPI Espresso yourself was going turn out like it did I wouldn't have bought it. Buyer's remorse :P

...

And now onto my happier purchase, OPI's Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous.



This shade is a lovely gunmetal-gray, glittery shade.


On the left you'll see the color with a the flash and on the right without.

Espresso Yourself lacked glitter but Lucerne-tainly Look Marvelous MORE than made up for it! I suppose I should've known considering another favorite shade of mine, Glitzerland, is also from the OPI Swiss Collection and is packed with beautiful glitter.


So do you have any new favorite nail shades you've tried for Fall? Or any that have been disappointments?

~Christi


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Uncorked #18: The Red Wine Tasting


Welcome to Uncorked! Where I feature a wine that I've tried and let you know my thoughts on it. There is a little disclaimer: I am by far no wine expert --I am just going to tell my thoughts on a wine. Some wine snobs out there might turn their nose up at my opinion and that's fine with me! Wine is meant to be savored and enjoyed! I might throw out some wine terms here and there and if I do, I will make sure that I give you the definition and try to explain them to the best of my abilities. My goal is to share some tasty wine picks with the world and hopefully encourage some of you out there to try a new wine. No bottle shall be discriminated against, price is no matter (with in reason), and this is just going to be all about exploring the world of wine.

This week's wine is:
Nine of them....yep that's right!
So here's the story, a couple months ago Christi came up with the genius idea to have a wine tasting just for us sisters. Unlike me, Christi is a white wine girl, and she thought it would a great time to try a variety of reds to find her fav. Luci came down for a visit and we had the day all planned.
It started with some professional photos of us for our parents (gotta love groupon), then we went out for sushi, did some shopping, and then settled at my house for some red wine and cheese.

I have attended a couple wine tastings, but I didn't really know how to proceed with my own tasting. I went to the local wine store and the owner suggested that we arrange the bottles from sweet to dry. Really, I should have done some homework on it :)

I picked up every kind of red (pretty much) that they had at the store and it ended up being nine bottles. I tried to stick to cheap wines, so most of them are $7.00 and under.

Here are all the bottles we had:
Manyana 2009 Tempranillo ($5.99)
Conquista 2010 Malbec ($6.99)
Barefoot Pinot Noir ($5.99)
120 2009 Carmenere ($6.99)
Barefoot Merlot ($5.99)
Yellowtail Shiraz ($5.99)
Dancing Bull 2009 Zinfanedel ($7.99)
And two that ended up being significantly higher priced than the others because I sampled them at the store:
Flock 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($12.99)
Tamarack Cellars 2008 Firehouse Red ($19.99)

We set up the wine, opened the bottles, set out glasses, and dined on some excellent cheese.
I know the presentation of the cheese isn't the best but I didn't have a way to mark them without the wrapper. (Which brings me to mention my upcoming post on cork cheese markers.)

Christi made a homemade boursin cheese recipe that she found on Pinterest, which I think we all agreed the original is better, but for a large party it would be a great substitute.

To let you all know we are not alcoholics, we did a small pour of each of the wines. Despite the small pour, we soon found out why usually when you do a wine tasting, you should only have a few bottles...not nine.

We started the wine tasting off with the 120 2009 Carmenere.

The bottle describes the Carmenere as: "the signature grade of Chile, has rich aromas of ripe, red fruit. On the palate, lush fruit flavors and a touch of spice lead to an elegant finish. A heavenly choice every time." What we found, is that it's a very acid wine. We poured a glass and after one sip I decided that we probably should let it breathe for a little. After letting it breathe for about 30 minutes, the wine tasted great. It was full bodied and fruity. However, it was still a little acid so we all thought this wine was just not for us.


Then onto the next wine, the Manyana 2009 Tempranillo

This bottle is described as a "juicy classic that is saturated with wild black fruit, cherries, and a hint of savory spices: perfect with all kids of meats or veggies - or relax into Manyana with a classical regional dish of a few olives and salted almonds." We all really liked this wine, it was light bodied, fruity, and a very pleasant drinking wine.


The next wine was the Yellowtail Shiraz

It's described as "Flavors of mulberry, spice, smooth vanilla." This was a medium body red, that was fairly fruity with some spices in the taste. This wine was ok, but I don't think any of us were very impressed with it.

The next bottle was the Tamarack Cellars 2008 Firehouse Red

The bottle's label say it's a "blend of 37% cabernet sauvignon, 30% syrah, 16% merlot, 7% cabernet franc, 3% malbec, 3% sangiovese, 3% petit verdot and 1% carmenere. Since it's first vintage, Firehouse Red has been consistently recognized as an outstanding red wine of depth and distinction." Now I sampled this earlier in the day and thought it was a good example of a blend. It was very acidic compared to the other wines we had sampled so far. A good example why some people equate a more acidic wine with a higher price. This was one of those bottles, that I would enjoy the first glass, but need to switch to something different on the next. My sisters were not fans of this wine at all.


On to the next bottle, Conquista 2010 Malbec

This is described as "spiced red plum flavors combined with this silky texture." I believe this was the first Malbec that both Christi and Luci had and they were really impressed by it. Malbecs have really become popular over the last 6 months. This was a full bodied wine with a nice peppery finish. It was enjoyed by all of us!


At this point, Christi started to ask how I knew what was light bodied and full, so we did a swirl test. We poured a little of the Tempranillo (light bodied) into one glass the the Malbec (full bodied) and Luci swirled the two glasses around to show the difference. It was fun to see her do it without spilling because if it was me, I would have spilled :)


Next and final one Barefoot Pinot Noir

This bottle is described as "Medium bodied wine with tantalizing flavors of ripe cherry and wild raspberry. Hints of vanilla and spice complement a smooth lingering finish." This was a great wine- it smelled very fruity, more than anything else we have had, and ended up being very light and fresh. Christi also said "I am actually surprised I liked it because I thought it would be very dry."

Now this ended up being our last bottle of wine, because we found out why wine tastings are usually are only with a few bottles and people spit out the wine. After a while, the wines started blending together and it was really hard to tell them apart.
At this point, we decided to just pick a fav and have a full glass.
So what was the verdict?? Well, we finished two bottles that night. The Manyana 2009 Tempranillo and the Conquista 2010 Malbec. I guess the South American wines win! Probably another reason why they have become so popular over the last year.

I should give honorable mentions to the bottles we opened, but we did not drink. Look for them on an upcoming Uncorked.

Barefoot Merlot
"A luscious wine with alluring flavors of boysenberry and chocolate. Hints of anise and subtle tannins complement the decadent silky finish."

Flock 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
"Intense varietal flavors with retained acidity, balance, and depth of character."

Dancing Bull 2009 Zinfandel

"Bright, zesty and bursting with flavors of black cherry and raspberry with just the right amount of spice."


The wine tasting was a really fun time! Next time I think we will stick with maybe four bottles and try to actually follow some sort of wine tasting guide. If you have every done your own wine tasting, let me know, I would LOVE to hear suggestions on how to do our next one!

Overall, the sister day was a blast! We ended up going to bed at 3am, after lots of laughs, wine, and good times!

~Beth

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