Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Over the Moon! Our Hot Air Balloon Baby Shower.

Hello friends!  Long time, I know.  Believe me, I KNOW.  I have been drowning in a sea of children, the type of sea that happens when you have 4 children in 5 years.  It has been quite the experience and I plan to come back and blog about it....but today I am here to share with you pictures and thoughts about the most fun baby shower I have ever thrown!  (So sad it's over!!)

It all started about 8 months ago when my dear friend Tammy divulged to me and our good friend, Lissi, that she was expecting her first baby.  Excitement filled our (Lissi and Joy) souls: A. because Tammy was having a BABY (!!!) and B. because at 30 years old I don't have many opportunities to throw a good friend her BIG baby know, the one that comes with having your first baby?  Yeah, it had been awhile for both Lissi and I.  It was ON!

We started plotting.  Yes, even before the gender was announced, Lissi and I were scouring Pinterest (world's best invention, why didn't I think of that!?) for ideas.  Finally the day came, we were told it was a boy, and the real planning began.  Believe me when I tell you that this shower was months in the making, and for that reason I am resurecting my blog from the depths of blogger so that I can post pictures and links to the goodness.  

We decided on a 'hot air balloon' theme.  After wracking our brains we came up with an idea for the invitation and I set out to make it in photoshop.  I used these balloon elements for the balloon and some clouds I had in my digital scrapbooking archive.  This is what I came up with.  Once it came alive on screen, I KNEW I was going to have to have it press printed, and I am so glad we did!!!  It was gorgeous in person, I wish you could reach out and touch it through your computer screen.  Yummy!!!

Next came the decorations, and I must say they turned out pretty darn cute.  I sewed some circle banners together in the colors we had chosen for the theme of the shower.  I made some flat hot air balloons that I also sewed in banner form to hang from the middle of the chandelier.

We found the cutest hot air balloon centerpiece on pinterest from the Basic Grey blog that we recreated in our theme colors.  It turned out absolutely adorable!  (Side note, do not use your teeth as a third hand when trying to build hot air balloon centerpieces.  You might end up chipping said teeth and look like a hillbilly.  Fair warning.)

We were in the living room for a lot of the time so I made another circle banner and also a banner made from rain clouds.

Back in the dining room, I covered my family picture wall with coordinating scrapbook papers to the theme of the shower (geometric and hot air balloon.)  It worked really well and added that little something extra!

Our menu consisted of Croissant Ham Sandwiches, Yogurt and Berry Parfaits, Egg Tartlets, Fruit, Cinnamon Danish, and Nutella Danish.  Let me just say...YUM!!!   Everything turned out amazing, which was lucky since I hadn't made some of them until that shower.  We also had a yummy punch that Lissi brought that rounded it off so well.

Yeah, let's see that Nutella Danish up close again....It was AMAZING!!!

So, instead of the typical baby shower games, we decided to make onsies for Tammy in all different sizes so her little guy would be sporting duds made by all the women who already love him.  We had all different fabrics and shapes to choose from, and just ironed on the shapes.  It was a really fun activity and the onsies turned out super cute!

I just realized I forgot to get pictures of our parting gift!!!  I can't believe it.  I will have to search through my images again tomorrow to be sure.

I am bummed because I didn't get any pictures of Tammy, Lissi, and I together or I would post it.  I have lots of candids of the shower but since this is a public blog I will refrain from posting them to respect the guest's privacy.

Thanks for looking!  If you have any questions on how we did anything, let me know.  :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's Been Awhile....

I haven't blogged in a really long time. I have been asked a few times if I am watching the Bachelorette, which OF COURSE I am, and, as always, I have strong opinions about it! Unfortunately, I just have not had the energy to blog. Why???

Yep, number four is on the way. Don't worry, number 3 is only 8 months old, so we are looking at a 14 month age gap. Heaven help me!!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


So, who else is completely addicted to the show Extreme Couponing on TLC? I have to admit that not only am I addicted....I am obsessed! Sure, in the past I have seen the occasional Facebook post from a friend, attaching a picture of groceries and boasting about how little they spent on them. Yes, I was intrigued, but after seeking information online, I quickly wrote off the whole 'coupon game'.

Until now.

Thanks to a good friend's advice and a renewed sense of I-can-do-this-ness, I have re-entered the land of the coupon...and IT. IS. ADDICTIVE.

Now, I am not nearly as skilled as those extreme couponers you see on television- remember, I am just a baby at the coupon game. But I am excited to say that in just one day of couponing, I scored some awesome deals! Seriously, getting these items for free or dirt cheap gave me a high like you would not believe. I literally had to make myself stay home tonight and not continue bouncing around the town's grocery stores, flaunting my new coupon skills. Check. Me. Out!

Store One: Target
Total Spent: $3.26

grocery 1

This was my first attempt at going in and using some 'killer deal' coupons. I had a coupon for more than the worth of the floss, so that was FREE! (Husband had to hear my squawk about the free floss all night, I was so proud.) The next killer deal- the Lysol Wipes. They were already on a great sale at $1.89, combined with a coupon for $1.50 off made them 39 CENTS! EACH! Dying!! Lastly the Dishwasher Powerballs. These weren't as cheap as the others, but still a fabulous deal. They started at $2.99 and I had a $1.75 coupon making them $1.24 a piece. These are de-lux, so I am happy about that!

Next up: Kroger
Total Spent: $11.15

grocery 3

Kroger is having a KILLER DEAL on General Mills cereal right now, buy 4 boxes, get a $5 gift card to Kroger. On top of that, there were a few cereals that were also on sale during the promotion- making it almost like a buy one, get one free deal. Combined with a coupon....dang good deal! I ended up spending about $1.15 a box. I have never paid so little for cereal before- including generic! LOOK at those huge boxes of cheerios! Can you tell I am puffed up in pride?

Last but not least, CVS.
Total Spent: $0.97

grocery 2

First I would just like to apologize to CVS for my past ignorance of their awesomeness. You can definitely score some incredible deals there, and they love to accept coupons. They give you coupons the moment you walk in, and also easy care bucks to come back and shop again. Combined with amazing sales and coupons...easy place to score a deal.

I got all of this (see that free floss again?) for 97 CENTS!!! Beaming! Love it! The toothbrushes were a dollar a piece (on sale from 5) and I had a buy 2, get $2 off coupon. So they were free. The dressings were the only thing I paid for, and they were about 38 cents a piece after a coupon.

I am really getting into the coupon thing.

Now, tell me. Are you a couponer? Do you love it? What sites do you love?

I still have some questions about coupons. My main ones are:

What is the difference in the newspaper inserts SS and RP compaired to the online SS and RP? Are they different?

On the show, how do people buy 100's of an item at one time? Every coupon I see says 'limit one per transaction'. Is this not a real concern?

I saw the advice that I need to look for the 'rock bottom prices' on the things I buy and never buy above that again. Are there any good sites that maybe have already compiled a list of sale prices?? Can you share?

Thanks for letting me have a moment. To say I was giddy about my savings is a total understatement. After seeing my cereal stash, my husband informed me that, "There is a fine line between an extreme couponer and a hoarder."

That's probably true.

Monday, April 11, 2011


So. We are moving.
We aren't moving far, but still, we are moving. Most of you that can relate to the stress that accompanies a move. Please pardon my looooong blog absence.
Over the next few months I will be coming here, pleading for opinions, as we basically have to start over with home furnishings. I am also going to attempts some 'do it yourself' projects (eep!), and I will come here to share. I am nervous but excited!!!
Anyhow, my first question comes in the form of TABLES. Dining room tables, to be exact. We need a large table for our dining room, but it can't be too formal (we will eat there every night), and it must be large enough to seat 6-8. Have you seen one you love? Have one you love? I have been mulling over the look of Farmhouse tables....thoughts?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dear Emily...

Since I have about .3 seconds before my baby starts to cry (he is currently doing 'tummy time' on the floor and NOT thrilled about it) let me just skip through all the mundane details leading up to the final rose last night. Brad picked Emily, and the whole world rejoiced. Poor, 'widowed', single-mom Emily finally has her fairytale coming true! Brad made her (and our room full of girls) cry when he professed his devotion to her and her daughter-even after she had given him the 3rd degree about being a dad and beaten the dead cat into the ground about how NOT fun that is...
Chantel made a very classy exit, uttering heartbreaking words about how she could have been so wrong about him ever loving her at all....sigh....

Then came After The Final Rose where it all fell apart. WHAT in the WORLD has gotten into Emily? Poised, classy Emily turned into the Ice Princess. She was cold...stand-off-ish, and just...SO uncomfortable to watch. Does she love Brad? Do you think she is happy to be the final one standing? What about his temper? What about HER temper??? I can't believe that she is falling apart while watching the episodes, that is as annoying as when girls who are on the show complain about him dating other women. Seriously? Her whole demeanor was killing me. Her 'I love yous' seemed shallow and empty. I felt really sad. Sad for Brad.

When the final episode ended, I felt like Brad had made the right choice choosing Emily.
When After the Rose ended, I felt like he had definitely made the wrong choice.

What do you think?

In other news, I had a little gathering at my house to watch the finale, and each of us brought a little treat to share. There were some YUMMY foods consumed (especially by this stress-eater right here!) and I thought I would share my treat since it turned out so yummy.

So if any of you have ever heard of Popcorn Indiana popcorn company, they make delicious popcorn in all flavors....and my friend, Amber, turned me on to their cinnamon sugar kettle corn.

It is ADDICTIVE!!! So yesterday as I passed it in the store, I thought to myself, "Hey, I can make it at home!" So I pulled out my Whirly Pop and gave it a go....and it turned out SO good!

Here is the recipe:

Cinnamon Sugar Kettle Corn

1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cinnamon/sugar mixture
3/4 teaspoon salt

Pour oil and popcorn kernels into popper, spin them around until you hear the first kernels popping. Lift lid and pour in 1/2 cup sugar. Continue to spin until popping stops (this happens all at once and can be crazy loud there for a minute!)

Carefully pour into a bowl and then IMMEDIATELY sprinkle salt and cinnamon/sugar mixture over the popcorn. I found it works best to pour onto a shallow wide bowl instead of a deep bowl in order to get the salt/cinnamon/sugar mixture evenly on there.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where to Begin?

I feel like a broken record when I say that, once again, I have totally neglected this blog for too long. I come with excuses!

First, we took a FABULOUS trip to the Bahamas. We stayed at Atlantis and it. was. amazing. I would recommend it to anyone, is the PERFECT family vacation spot. Tons of pools, water slides, lazy river, CRAZY river, beach, sand, ocean....we never ran out of things to do or got bored. The whole resort is one HUGE aquarium, it is a visual feast where ever you go. Our kids 'oohed and aahed' over the fish every single day. The food was wonderful, the people were SO nice and willing to help us in any was the best trip. We are going to be talking about this one for a long, long time!

After we returned, however, my baby boy came down with a nasty cough which landed him an overnight stay in the hospital. I wasn't SUPER worried, just felt really bad for him and his misery. Luckily he is doing better, on some medication, inhalers, etc, and on the road to recovery. I hope to recover from my extreme lack of sleep soon.

Lastly, we have been in the process of buying a new home. I am SO thrilled with the prospect of adding more space to our lives. Since the boy was born, we have felt the walls of our town home become more and more cramped, and we are definitely ready to move on. We have been consumed with loans, furniture, fences, appliances...all the fun things that come with a new space. I will definitely be coming here to ask for thoughts and opinions on decor- I think we MIGHT just attempt to put up a picture rail on our own...and a little wainscoting? Maybe??

Throughout all this, I have been, of course, keeping up with my precious Bachelor. I am SO EXCITED for the finale next week, I just can't wait for him to make his choice! I watched the Women Tell All while I was in the hospital, and I was really surprised how nuts Jackie went on Michelle. Why she was taking it SO personally, I do not know. I am glad Brad stuck up for Michelle, I believe that she probably was just being sarcastic. As much as she annoyed me, if she hadn't been there, I probably wouldn't have been nearly as entertained!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Valentine's Lesson Learned.

*Family Blog Updated.

This year it seemed like Valentine's Day was on some kind of performance enhancing drug.
Everywhere I turned there was some kind of irresistible Valentine's craft or baked good staring me in the face, and I could hardly choose which morsel of cuteness I wanted to partake in. A few blogs down, I posted some bubblegum necklaces that I thought I was definitely going to be making for my girl's Valentines. However, after pricing out gumballs and thinking about the time factor, making 30 of those necklaces...packaging them somehow...I began to feel overwhelmed. Which is why I turned to Our Best Bites, where I saw these adorable cookies:


Perfect! Cookies are easy to bust out, and really, how hard could these be? Sure, I had never worked with GLACE icing before...or piped a cookie...or piped anything...but it would be fine, right?

Next, I was in charge of my preschooler's 'sweet treat' for her class Valentine's party. So what would be cute and fun for preschoolers to eat? Off to Our Best Bites bout these beauties?
OBB Pie Pops in Blue Glass

Cauuuuuuute!!!! Since I am the queen of homemade pie crust, I just knew these would be a breeze.

Oh my gosh...ANDDDDDDDDD....since I am making pies ANYWAY....why don't I make those cute Pie in a Jar treats for Teacher gifts?????
heart pie jar OBB

Perfection. Utter perfection.

And so it began, my baking extraveganza. Husband was out of town, but no sweat. I knew I could do it alone. New baby in the house? Not a problem. I would bust it all out while he was sleeping.

Do you see where this is going? We are headed to a very dark place, my friends.

I started out right. I made the sugar cookies AND the pie dough on Saturday night so that on Sunday all I would have to do is pipe the cookies and make the pies. Easy peasy. I got the baby down for a nap and the kids settled in front of a movie, and began making my glace icing. The icing was very easy to make and turned out exactly as she showed it. The only problem is, her black icing called for food coloring gel, which I had of. Ummmmm, not even close. In the car, kids, and off to the store to buy 4 more of those...and to be safe, I picked up a bunch more red, too. Back home, the black was finally a dark charcoal color and the 'red' was about as good as it was going to get.
I pulled out my previously purchased frosting bags and piping tip. For those of you who actually know what I am talking about, I bought a #4 tip, and then I read that she used a #3. Shoot! Well, I had to make due with my #4, and it also worked fine. I figured out how to attach it to my bag (where were my reality tv cameras when I was working THAT out?) and filled it with icing, and got to piping.

Let me let you in on a little secret, friends. Piping is VERY SOOTHING. I could have piped all the day long. Sure, my piping wasn't perfect, but boy was it fun! Here are my cookies all piped and ready to go:
BLOG-2 Edit

Notice that I added a line down the middle that OBB didn't have. I think it helped define the wings more. I liked it.

So then I had to wait for that to set. Once it was ready, I filled in the middles. While this was not hard at all, it took FOREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER!!!!!!!!!
BLOG-3 Edit

You can see that I piped frosting in, then spread it with a spoon. Took about a million years to spread it all out.

FINALLY! All spread, and, once again, waited for it to set:


Next came the black. First I put on the black heads while I was waiting on the wings to harden, then went onto the dots. Now let me let you in on a MAJOR secret here. The black dots were SO MUCH EASIER to put on the wings that were NOT FULLY SET. If I could do it over I would have immediately put the black on before the red was even close to set. I could just push the tip (still #4) down into the red and squeeze a little and the black would meld into the red. On the ones that were set, it sat on top, kind of 3 dimensionally, which was hard not to squish when I packaged them up.

Okay, so once the black heads were set (do you see how time consuming this was becoming, waiting for the icing to set between each step?) I added the white guessed it....waited for those to set and THEN I added the black eyes. PHEW!

BLOG-6 edit

Hello, my pretties!!!!

By that time it was about 9 pm and it was off to get the kidlets in bed. They had insisted that they witness the creation of the eyes, so I had to let them stay up late to see them (because I had to wait for them to set, people.) Oh, and I made 5 cookie sheets full of these, between school friends and other friends, we needed a lot of cookies.

Fast forward to 10 pm, kids are finally sleeping and it is time to START the pie pops. Yes, start them. At 10 pm. No problem, pie is easy. And the pie crust was already made in my freezer, remember????

I pulled out the dough, made the mistake of trying to roll it out right away. It crumbled into a bajillion pieces. Rolled it out a few times, and when it warmed up it worked beautifully. I grabbed my 2 inch heart, it was tiny. I wish I would have taken a picture to show you, but it was ITSY bitsy. The trouble was, I had lost my 3 inch heart. Crap! So, I rolled out 2 inch hearts and then I flattened them out with my hand to make them larger. I filled them with her apple pie recipe (I used about 1/10 of the recipe, the pies were that small) and got them on the sticks...into the oven....and started working on the Pies in the Jar. Oh, did I mention how I had to hunt around town for the jars? And even then I didn't find the exact right ones. Oh well.

Quick glance at clock...11:30. How did it take so long to make those pies? Oh, right. I flattened them all by hand. Shoot.

Okay, so I flew into crazy mode, pressing the pie crusts into the jars, filling them with blueberry pie filling (from a can, people, times were getting desperate!) and then cut out tiny pie hearts to put on top. At this time the pops were coming out of the oven, so I feverishly whipped up the glaze to go on top. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! The glaze was delicious!!! I threw the pies in the oven to bake...For 45 minutes????

I used the time wisely to create a container for the pie pops to stick into. I used a punch bowl and made a little tag for the outside. Then I used floral foam and glued some cute paper on it that looked like conversation hearts, and then filled the top with the hearts. Perfection.

At this point my baby woke up and by the time I got him back to sleep it was 1 am. ONE IN THE MORNING! The pies were ALMOST done baking and then I could sleep.

But wait.

The kids can't just take those cookies to school to drop in Valentine's boxes all naked and unpackaged! DARN IT!!!! DARN ITTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!

I loaded all the mostly set cookies into tiny cellophane bags. Which were open on top. then I took a trip to the basement, quickly made a tag in photoshop, printed the tags, brought them up, cut them out, and stapled them on top of the cellophane bags.

Which brings me to the point of the story. There I was. At TWO in the morning. Finishing Valentine's treats for my preschoolers. PRESCHOOLERS. 4 and 3 years old. What was I DOING??? WHY??? Was I insane? What was I trying to PROVE? And who was I trying to prove it TO??

Honestly, I cannot tell you. I will say that I grossly misjudged how much work these treats were going to be. I definitely did not set out to spend 10 hours making Valentines goodies for tiny children who would not fully appreciate the magnitude of my work. I am begging year, if I even MENTION hand making treats like this again, stop me. Get on a plane, fly here, and stop me. It was definitely not worth losing my sanity over!!!

The only saving grace here were the results of the hard work. Of course everything turned out darling. The cookies were TO DIE FOR and the girls were incredibly proud to hand them out (don't worry that my older one got sick and ended up not being able to go to her Valentine's party anyway. No, I am not kidding.) I was, however, surprised to discover that in BOTH of their classes...they were the only ones to bring home made Valentines. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did. I also have to admit that as I was carrying everything into the school, I felt a bit silly. It all felt so over the top....oh well.

So, I wish I had a cuter picture of how the Valentine's turned out, but at 2 am, you get what you get.

Blog cookie edit

And the Sweety Pie Pops? Um yes, so cute, Here they are at the preschool about to be served:

BLOG-9 edut

And here they are after, just a few left over:


My favorite thing, and by far the EASIEST thing to make, were the Pie in a Jar for the teachers.

BLOG-8 edit

So there you have it. My totally insane Valentine's Day Treat Extraveganza. PLEASE tell me that I was not the only crazy mom out there up til 2 am making treats for preschool. Lie to make me feel better if you have to...or at least to make me feel a little less insane.