Friday, January 31, 2014

a heater for the freezing cold. five on friday.

I thought it would be kind of nice to do a random assortment for today, so five on Friday it is :)

one. We got a heater for our basement and I am in love with it. Basements are always much colder than the rest of the house, and with these subzero temperatures we have been having it's been even colder. We have been bundling up and keeping oodles of blankets in the basement just to keep warm. I hated coming down stairs just because it was so cold. Our "office" (the computer) is in the basement and anytime I would come down to blog or do anything else my fingers would freeze. Which made me not want to blog or use the computer at all. So I didn't as much as I would have liked to. Then we decided we ought to get a heater since my in-laws were coming to visit and they would be sleeping in the basement. Why did we not get one months ago?! Best thing ever.

two. that's how many "cold days" I had this week. It was glorious. I absolutely love spending my days with just my little man. The days are quieter, calmer, sweeter. I love that I can worry about only him and devote my time to him and what chores need to be done for our home (if I'm lucky I can do said chores, but I don't freak out if I don't get them done).

three. I have been able to blog a lot more these days, which I am loving (hopefully you are too, ha :). I think it has a lot to do with the heater and a routine. I thrive on routine and love having one. My plan is to blog about that routine one day soon.

four. Nothing beats getting real mail. The other day I was going through a stack of mail and was delightfully surprised to find a card in there for me! It about made my week. I also really love sending cards to people, I think in part because I know how much fun it is to get "real" mail in your mailbox. Sadly I have been slacking in the sending cards to friends department lately. But, I want to try and send a card out at least once every other week (I don't want to say once a week and then disappoint myself :). Want a card? I'd love to send you one!

(I wish I was Danni Hong, lucky duck! :)

five. I know lots of people are saying they are so done with winter and the freezing weather. Can I tell you a secret? I'm not. I kind of enjoy the cold weather (especially since I get to be inside where it is warm). When I do have to go out it's kind of fun to bundle up and half a dozen layers, hats, gloves, mittens, scarves.... Plus, it makes me appreciate the warmer weather so much more once it does come. On a kind of side note, the lady I babysit for just told me that a teacher at her school said we are supposed to get 44 inches of snow in February. 44 inches in February. That would be pretty amazing.

Anyhow. I hope you all have a good weekend! Stay warm and cozy if you are suffering from the bitter cold temperatures, and enjoy the warmth if you are not!


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Wonderland Penguin Birthday Cake

I know, I know, everything I've shared lately has to do with my sweet little baby, but let's face it, he takes up a lot of my time and I am pretty much in love with him and I don't want to forget all of these sweet little memories we are making. 

And yes, you read that title right, this post is all about the birthday cake. 

Because I was so excited about how E's cake turned out I wanted to devote an entire post to it. So I am. I have seen parties for babies first birthdays where the parents go all out, tons of friends and family are invited and a big celebration of the birthday boy or girl is had. I think these are wonderful and there is nothing wrong with them. But, like I mentioned before, we chose to keep things simple. Even if we still lived in Louisville and had friends and family to invite over, we would have kept things just as simple. I know he is a loved little boy without having to fuss over a big party. Though I must say, I do love looking at pictures from sweet little first birthday parties and how everything was done up big and pretty. 

Even though we didn't go all out I wanted to have a fun little celebration and a theme of some sort. Because E's has a birthday in January and it has been bitterly cold and snowy this year, I thought it would be fun to do a little winter wonderland theme. 

I asked him what he thought about it and he told me it was a great idea. So, Winter Wonderland it was. 

I looked around on Pinterest and saw some pretty cute ideas. I had always wanted to try my hand at making a cake and decorating it with fondant so I found an amazing tutorial and started baking/decorating/cake making.

Because my days are full with three little ones I knew I would need to start well ahead of when I wanted to finish the cake, which was Friday. I started almost a week before I planned to have his little party. On Saturday during nap time I made the fondant and then slowly throughout the week I worked on the decorations.

Landon even got sucked into procrastinated working on his school work and helped with the decorating because he thought it looked like fun. He made a few little presents and decorated the little cake. Impressive, no?

One of my favorite types of cake is funfetti so I decided to make that for my little Gooseberry. I found a recipe for funfetti cake and decided to try it out. I followed the directions almost completely, but there were a few changes I made and things I would do differently in the future, should I decide to make this cake again. Which, I probably will.

One of the changes I made was using whole wheat flour instead of regular flour. I used whole wheat flour instead just because it's what I had at home. I didn't realized I only had about a half a cup of regular flour until I went to bake the cake one night and didn't feel like going out to get flour, so I used the whole wheat I had at home. I thought the cake still tasted really good and it was even a little healthier for us too I suppose :)

One thing I would do differently in the future is not cover the cake in the middle of the baking time like the recipe says to. I did this, but it took my cake a lot longer to bake, and even though I covered the cake really loosely, the cake still stuck to the tin foil. I don't think it's a necessary step at all and almost didn't do it. But, I thought I should follow it through just to be safe (even though for the other cake I just made I changed a bunch of stuff). I'm just thankful for icing :)

Speaking of icing, the buttercream icing recipe it pretty tasty. I followed it exactly and it was yummy! I didn't double it, even though I doubled the cake recipe, because I don't love a ton of icing on my cake. Though, I think if I could have made one and a quarter of the recipe it would have been the perfect amount for the two cakes. One worked, but it was pretty thin in some spots, even for me.

I had so much fun making the little penguins and snowmen for E's cake. I'm just so glad I had an excuse to try this! I'm already thinking about what I will do for his cake next year...

And even though the cake was for E, and we didn't eat the penguins or anything (although they are completely edible), I am glad I made them. It was fun and added a little happy and cheer to his special day. I am glad my in-laws came for a little visit, even if they only saw the cake for a little while, it was just nice for someone else to appreciate the cake. Landon thought it was great, and E could have cared less, so it was nice to have other people see it :)

The chubby little guy is L's favorite (maybe mine too). L wanted me to make a fish for him, like he saw in the inspiration cake, I told him I wasn't so sure I could do that. But I tried anyway and he seemed pretty excited when he saw the little fish, and he loved that the chubby penguin was the one with the fish. I told him that I made that little guy just for him.

A little snowball fight...

I tried to make a little hat like E has for one of the little penguins. I love how E's hat has little ears and thought it would be fun to try and make a little Emerson penguin.

The sad thing about this cake is that, well, I spent about a week or so working on it, and now his day has come and gone. And the penguins are no longer needed. I just don't know what to do with them. They are sitting in a tupperware right now, and I know I'll have to throw them away, but it just makes me sad because they were a labor of love and I really like them. I might even consider them my buddies.

The earmuffs!

So, there it is. Emerson's (second) first birthday cake. It was so fun to make and so much easier than I thought it would be. I know there are little imperfections here and there, but I love it and am proud of my work. Hopefully one day E will be able to appreciate it, even if it is just in pictures.

I'd love to make you a cake! If you live nearby (or in Louisville.... maybe?) and want a cake I'd love to make one for you!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

a little 1st birthday celebration

So, just a little more about the birthday festivities...  

This past weekend Landon't parents and youngest sister came to visit us to celebrate Emerson's first birthday. Friday evening we had dinner and a little bit of cake, E opened some gifts from them and then went off to bed not too long after the "party" was over. We do things up big around this house. ...

The cake was the biggest thing as far as the party goes. But I'm not sad we didn't have a big party, it's like I said the other day, we like simple.


Apparently he was a little confused or upset or something...

oh, that face!

I guess he just really wanted some cake :)

Babies in little sun hats are the cutest thing ever. I can hardly resist his little cheeks!

 He got his own phone, it's pretty fancy if you ask me.

Boady was pretty exhausted from all of the action and needed some attention (for some reason he might not get as much attention as he once did...).

 Like I said, I didn't do a lot of decorating for his birthday, but I thought it would be neat to put out some pictures showing how much he has grown this past year. I considered them my decorations for the party.

That along with the different size clothes he has worn over the course of his little life. His current size, 9 months, is missing. I got a little distracted apparently, and never hung one up. Eh, oh well.

Look at that tiny! little monkey outfit! He was such a little peanut!

And there you have it. The end of E's birthday celebration. I like to make things last as long as possible, in case you couldn't already tell :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

a happy little first birthday

Just a few days ago we celebrated one year of Emerson. I can still hardly believe that he has been in our lives for a whole year and a few days (not counting the 36 weeks he was in my belly that is). Before I get all sentimental and mushy again and start really bawling my eyes out, I'll just share some pictures from his little birthday celebration on his actual birthday day :) 

I made him a special little cake. I wanted his first cake to be somewhat healthy so I made a blueberry banana cake for him. I found a recipe for a healthy cake online and I just changed it so I could make it what I wanted (what would be easier/better) for me. There was also a recipe for a healthy icing. I tried it, of course I wanted the icing to be healthy too. Well, as it turns out, it was just gross. There is a reason icing is never healthy, and that is because it is supposed to be yummy and yummy = sugar. hehe :) I didn't have time to make a new batch of real icing for his cake (I did have three babies to look after....) so at the last minute I added some decorations to his cake. I mean, who doesn't love cool whip?!

I decided to give him the cake and let him go at it. I'm pretty sure it's the biggest thing he has ever had on his tray before. and he wasn't quite sure what to do about it.

So I broke some off for him ...

And there's the cake. I'll share the recipe later on (if I can remember that is) and the healthy frosting in case any of you are interested ...

So, it might look like he got a lot of loot, but that's mostly because I like presents. I know he's just a baby and doesn't really care one way or the other, but I had to wrap them all up for him any how. And because I like presents so much I only put one thing in each bag. Is it bad that we "regifted" some of his Christmas gifts? Cause we did that. Which is why there is so much for him to open. I was gave him fun things like lotion and soap and clothes that I had been collecting since he was a little peanut (sometimes when a package of onesies is $2 you just buy them and hold on to them. I know he won't be able to wear any of the clothes for a while yet, but eh, he has them).

Boady even got in on the action. What a treat. He was only slightly terrified of the bath toys. Crazy doggy.

Emerson got lots of happy birthday wishes and was able to facetime with all of his grandparents. It was a nice little celebration. We are so thankful for our little Gooseberry.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Banana Blueberry Cake: a recipe

mentioned a few days ago that I wanted to make E a healthy first birthday cake. I looked around the internet and in many cookbooks before I found a recipe I thought could work. I followed most of the cake recipe, but I wanted to share how I made it just in case I decide to make it again, which I probably will.

Banana Blueberry Cake

5 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
2 cups frozen blueberries (or fresh if you have them)

Peel and mash the bananas, add in the remaining ingredients, excluding the blueberries, and mix well. After everything is combined, gently stir in the blueberries. Pour into two 8 or 9" round or square pans or one 9x13 greased pan(s). Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. Let cool and then top as desired.

* I tried the icing recipe that went along with the cake recipe, and I thought it was horrible. I know it was probably a good healthy icing, but I want my icing to taste good and not just be healthy. Even if it is for my baby. I didn't have time to make a new icing, so I just used a little cool whip instead :)

** This makes a good first birthday cake, if you are looking for something healthy for your baby, but it would also make a good breakfast bread (without the icing/cool whip). I ate the left over cake for breakfast because I thought it was so good.

*** Also, this cake is a little dense, it's not light and fluffy like a lot of other cakes. It's actually a little like banana bread, which is fine with me because I like banana bread.

Anyhow. There's that. Happy baking!

Emerson's 12 month update

This month has been very full and busy, but also very sweet and refreshing for us. You celebrated your first Christmas and we went to see family over Christmas break. You did alright on the car ride, you slept for the first half of it and then you were awake and just wanted to be out of your car seat. I sat next to you and we played for most of the trip. I can't complain too much though, you are fun and a little cutie. Though in the future, it would be nice if you would be a little less vocal about how you don't want to be buckled in. Anyhow... just some things I want to remember about you and this little time in your life.

Sleep. Before Christmas you were sleeping through the night, waking just once in the early morning after which you would go back to sleep for an hour or so. But, when we were visiting family for Christmas, you did not sleep. I would lay you down at your bed time, you would sleep a few hours and then wake up. It usually worked out that you woke up exactly when I was all ready for bed and had just gotten comfy under the covers, then you would wake up crying. You only wanted mamma too. Daddy would not do. Eventually you ended up sleeping with us in bed every night because it was the only way you would sleep (and it was still only a little). We came home a little earlier than planned because none of us were getting any sleep. You like your own room and your own bed. Can't say that I blame you. Once we got home you started sleeping much better, waking only around five to eat and then you would sleep for a while longer. But thank the Lord, you are sleeping through the night! 

Eating. You love meal time (and snack time). I'm trying to continue to introduce you to new foods, but sometimes it's just hard. That or I'm scared you'll have an allergic reaction like you did to the spaghetti (the tomatoes in the sauce to be more exact). You still get to try new foods frequently, but are mostly eating fruits and veggies, nothing wrong with that though, right? Anytime I eat something different than what you have you watch me so closely and stare at the food on my plate. One day I will let you have some, don't worry. Though last night I made you macaroni and cheese and you didn't really seem to care for it. Some of your favorites are: cheese, bananas, bread with hummus, eggs, apples, butternut squash, cauliflower, baby lima beans, Puffs, Mum Mums, Lil' Crunchies, peaches, pears... you love food. When you are done with something/want more/want something else, you let us know! 

Play. Play time is pretty much all of the time. You love to play and will play with anything and everything that I allow you to. Some things you really enjoy playing with are: the diffuser attachment for my hair dryer, my make up bag, any of the bottles I keep in the bathroom drawer, spatulas, the rice cooker pot (so Loud!), pot holders, the kitchen chairs, and the measuring cups. Pretty much anything. And yes, you are closely supervised while you play with all of those things. You love reading and eating (yes, sometimes literally) books. I have had to take a few books away from you because you managed to pull off some of the cardboard and were chowing down on it. yikes.

Growth. You are growing, that's for sure! You are wearing nine month cloths now and they fit you pretty well. You still wear a few of your six month clothes every now and again, but it is almost time to pack all of them up. You are wearing size three diapers and weigh 19 pounds.

Favorites. Mamma (you are a mamma's boy for sure. I kind of secretly love it), books, throwing things (mostly toys), following me from one room to the next, the bathroom (can't figure out what's so exciting about that...), eating, Boady, helping pick out your clothes to wear, helping fold the clothes, and greeting Daddy when he comes home each night, looking at pictures of babies.

Milestones. Crawling is still your favorite way to get around and you are super speedy. You love it when I chase you. Sometimes at bath time you crawl away from me as I try and take your socks off, your pants... and you just giggle like it's the most hilarious thing ever. You have taken a few steps here and there, four tiny steps is the most you have taken at once. Usually you stick with two little steps and then plop down to play or crawl off to something else. You are standing on your own for a lot longer. I think you do the most standing and "walking" when you are busy playing with something. Often times you will pick a big toy or other object (empty diaper box), hold it in one hand, and then take a few steps. I'm sure it won't be long before you are walking everywhere, but secretly, I love your little crawling self and want to assure you there is absolutely no hurry for you to start walking.

ha. poor baby, he just wants to get the sticker off his shirt and I'm not letting him :) 

Words. Mama. Daddy is really working on getting you to say Dada. But for now you have one word and it is Mama (which is fine by me :)  

Teeth. No new teeth, you still just have six little teeth in there. That is fine with me. Teething is no fun.

Bedtime. You love bedtime. Each night you are very ready to get to bed. You love taking your bath, and play for a little while in the bath tub. Most nights you like to help me get the bath ready. I love how you stand at the edge of the bathtub just looking in like you can't wait to get in the water. After bath you like to fight me or your daddy when it is time to get your jammies on, but after you are in your pajamas you are ready for stories, prayers, and to be laid down. I am so thankful you go down for bed so easily now. It was hard work getting there, but so worth it. You have been doing really well with going down for several months now. Keep it up, buddy!

Dislikes. Getting in your car seat, (for whatever reason, all of the sudden you stiffen your little body and squirm like crazy any time we put you in your car seat, I hope this doesn't last long), getting your diaper changed and getting dressed (you do not like to be still! You would think I was trying to torture you when I change your diaper from the way you squirm and fuss. But, I win every. time. You must have a diaper on that little booty), being told "no", when you want something and don't have it or get it (mostly at meal times), being hungry, and being away from mamma.

I love you so much Emerson, you are my little sunshine and bring so much so into each and every day. I cannot believe how much (and how fast!) you are growing! Thanks for making me your mamma! I love you to the stars and back.