Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hosting a baby shower

I've hosted several casual parties with my friends, but I've never actually "hosted" an event, per se. Well, a good friend of mine, Jenn, is due to have her girl September 24th (though no one believes she'll actually make it that long, poor girl is already having contractions). About a month or so ago, I decided I wanted to be the one to throw her a baby shower for the ward. I was super excited!

I quickly enlisted the help of another good friend of mine, Dereth, for several reasons. 1) Our apartment is pretty darn small and could absolutely not hold more than 5-6 people comfortably. Just was not going to work. 2) I was completely overwhelmed at the thought of doing it myself, and Dereth is awesome at coming up with fun ideas.

Shortly after I asked her to help me out, Dereth found us a party theme! She LOVES reading blogs, and found a strawberry-themed party on someone's blog that had been used for a child's birthday party but was easily adaptable. She and I both loved the look of it, and Jenn agreed, so it was set! We set a date and started planning our menu and decorations.

Sadly, Dereth's mother passed away in the early morning the Monday before the shower. I'd gotten a text from Dereth letting me know, and got an email shortly thereafter apologizing that she wouldn't be in town to help with the shower. I was so sad for Dereth that it took a little while for that to sink in. Uh oh.....

Once I realized what that meant, I sent out an email to another woman in the ward. Marjean had hosted several events at her home, and I was crossing my fingers that she would be able to let me do it at their house on short notice. She agreed, and I heaved a sigh of relief. (Yes, Mom, the kind that 10 years ago would've left me on the kitchen floor.) One problem down! I had a mass email sent out to the women letting them know the location had been changed.

Dereth and I hadn't gone shopping yet for the decorations, since we'd planned on doing it together. So, with Amy in tow, I ran to a few different stores and got what I needed (though of course, I forgot a few things and had to run out last-minute on Friday afternoon). I made a schedule for myself of what food I would make on which days Wednesday-Friday so that I wouldn't get overwhelmed. It actually worked really well! (As an aside, a schedule was required because often when I get overwhelmed, my instinctive response is to shut down and just...not do anything. Ask Brett about my housekeeping. Actually, don't.)

So, Wednesday I made a strawberry cheesecake. It turned out well, although the top browned a bit. I don't make cheesecakes very often, so I'm not the greatest at them. (Especially since in my head, I was comparing it to Kristin's cheesecakes. Yeah. No real comparison there. It's quite obvious I'm still an amateur.) But it ended up tasting good, and the texture was perfect, in my oh so humble opinion.

Thursday I made mini-cupcakes. I am SO glad I only used one cake mix. I've never done mini cupcakes, so I honestly had no clue what the yield would be. Yeah, one box made 72 mini strawberry-flavored cupcakes. Holy cow! I left them to cool overnight.

Friday was my busy day. In addition to my last minute run to the store, I made strawberry buttercream frosting, frosted the cupcakes, made chocolate covered strawberries, and put together a strawberry spinach salad. Then I got all my stuff together, tied a few bows, and high-tailed it over to Marjean's house half an hour early to set up. Fortunately she gave me a hand, otherwise I would've been running really late. She whipped up some strawberry lemonade while I set up the table and the food.

I am so bummed, though. I completely forgot to take ANY pictures. I even had my camera right there! Gah! I blame it on my pregnant brain. I can do that, right?

All in all, I think it turned out really well. It seemed like the women had fun, and there were NOT a lot of leftovers (other than cupcakes, but that's totally understandable since there were a billion of them). The salad was completely gone, there were 2 slices of cheesecake left (small slices, at that), and a few strawberries.

I call it a success!

A new look!

As those of you who actually read my blog may have noticed, it has a new look!

My sister Heather had updated her own blog and put a banner at the top. I told her how much I loved it, and she offered to do one for me! I was so thrilled, of course I said yes. Admittedly, I liked my little backgrounds, etc., but I know this will be easier for people to read the type, and I do love the banner. Heather may not think she's terribly talented with these things, but I disagree!

Another great thing Heather showed me was how to change my blog template. Up til now, I had only been able to post 5 pictures per blog post. It was driving me NUTS! (Hence all the part one/part two picture posts.)

No longer! As you can see with my previous couple of posts, I can now put as many pictures as I want in one blog post! Ha! That change alone has made me so happy. I LOVE pictures, and I really like including them on my blog. Most of my family (including Brett's family, since they're mine now, too) doesn't get to see us very often. That makes me sad. I love being around family, and I want Amy to know her extended family as much as I want them to know her. So, I figure the least I can do is put up plenty of pictures so that our family can watch our adorable little girl grow.

So far, no complaints! :D

Amy's birthday party

Amy's birthday fell on a Wednesday this year, so we had her party on Saturday the 6th. Several of our friends were invited, and we had it at Mom's house so that she and Heather and Chandra could be there. I was glad our friends were willing to drive the extra distance so my family could be involved. What great friends we have!

I made some appetizers to go with our cake. We had guacamole, bean salsa, and sandwich wraps. Deviled eggs were on the menu, but I had 3 batches of botched hard-boiled eggs and finally gave up. Alas. But now I know for future reference.

Then there were the cakes. I made a little 5-inch round cake for Amy. I thought her "smash cake" turned out cute! It was chocolate, with chocolate buttercream frosting. Brett helped me out by freehanding the outline of a butterfly on top, and I filled and decorated it.

The butterfly matched the big cake I made for the grownups. I used a butterfly-shaped pan, which was the equivalent of a 9x13. The cake got sliced into 2 layers, chocolate buttercream between the layers, vanilla buttercream on top. I thought it turned out really well, and there were not a lot of leftovers. Next time, though, I need to remember to smooth my frosting.

Of course, Amy made a HUGE mess with her cake. It was so adorable! I set the cake in front of her (after we'd stripped her down to her diaper), and she dove into it face-first! Yup, that's my girl. :D At one point, she got quite a bit of frosting up her nose. We were still getting chocolate out the next day. Ha! After licking the icing off a good portion of the cake, she started grabbing fistfuls of cake and shoving them in her mouth.

After getting a thorough bath from Daddy, Amy came back down much more presentable and opened presents (with help from Mama, of course). She was quite fascinated by the wrapping paper/tissue paper, but loved getting new toys (and a dress)! Her new toys are at the top of the toy box, and she loves to take them out and make sure they're strewn across the living room. She must think if you can see a square foot of carpet that she's not doing her job well. She definitely keeps Mama busy!

Amy Turns One!

I feel like I have been nonstop busy the past few weeks! Wow! Definitely time to catch up on some updates.

It's hard to believe, but Amy turned one on August 3rd! The time has flown by so quickly. Where does it go? On the one hand, I'm blown away that she's been here for an entire year already; on the other hand, I can't really remember life before her! I am so lucky to have such a sweet, curious, lovable girl in my life. What would I do without her?

Amy and Daddy on her birthday (alas, we had to take her little jersey back as we realized when it was on her that it was rather poorly made and therefore not worth what we spent on it. At least we got photographic evidence):

A friend of mine from a mommy board online sent this Little Tyke car for Amy's birthday. She just loves it! She tools around the house pushing it and running it into everything. She loves getting rides on it, especially when Brett zooms her back and forth. So, as it was her birthday, I figured what the heck, let's let her run around naked for a little while. She grinned and headed straight for her car and just played happily while being stark naked. She was actually rather upset with me when I put a diaper back on her. Poor kid.

How happy I am to have such a blessing in my life!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy birthday to me! (And Harry Potter)

On Sunday I celebrate my 25th birthday. Happy quarter of a century! :) I actually had my celebration spread out over 3 days. I love when that happens.

Saturday, my mom came up and watched Amy for us so that Brett could take me to see the last Harry Potter movie. I LOVED it! I've been a Harry Potter fan for quite a while (since the beginning, really, and that's a LONG time), so I'm a bit sad to see the end. Still, I thought it was really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was nice to get out without Amy for a while! After we got home, Brett made steak and asparagus. It was delicious! I'm still waiting on my Tollhouse pie, though.....(HINT HINT, Brett!)

Sunday the 31st was my actual birthday. After church we went down to my mom's. We had a Chinese chicken salad, which was delicious, bread, and a frozen toffee pie. I used to joke about my mom's refusal to turn on the oven during the hot parts of the summer (sorry, Mom), but with the heat index being over 105 for the past couple of weeks, even I don't want to bake. I happily accepted a no-bake dinner. Who wants to eat hot food when it's 115 out? Not me! I opened some presents, including some hair stuff from Channie and popcorn and oil to go with the Whirley Pop Mom got for me. I'm so excited! I love love LOVE kettle corn, and the last time Sharon was up here, we made a batch on Mom's stove. It was amazing! So Mom bought me my own. I very happily made my first batch when I got home. It was good, although I burned the sugar a bit since I was trying to do it all myself.

Monday evening, the three of us went over to my friend Dereth's house. Dereth is also a big Harry Potter fan, and we decided (well, it was her idea) that it would be fun to have a Harry Potter-themed little bash since Harry and I share a birthday. Dereth had Potter-themed treats for us, including jelly beans (although NOT Bertie Bott's, thankfully), Hagrid's rock cake, and cockroach clusters. When we got there, she and I whipped up a batch of butterbeer (cream soda, ice cream, butter, brown sugar, all blended together). It was tasty! We added a bit of butterscotch ice cream topping, which was good, although in the end I think it was a tad too sweet.

Amy had fun playing with the Atkins, and especially enjoyed mooching butterbeer off Dereth

"Mmmmmm....I think I might like this...." Amy licking her lips after having some butterbeer off Dereth's spoon:

Apparently Dereth was too slow with the spoon, as my impatient and grabby daughter decided to stick her entire face in the cup instead of wait:

The result: Best. Mustache. EVER.

After being cleaned up by Daddy, Amy enjoyed playing on the piano (assisted by Thomas):

Pictures, Part 2

Here are some more pictures from this summer.

On a walk in Ohio over Independence Day weekend, riding on Daddy's shoulders:

Photo shoot at Grammy's:

Naked little pixie playing on Heather's bed:

Pretty girl with a headband in. I think she looks a ton like her cousin Ella in this picture.

With a ponytail, perched on Heather's table and chewing on her comb:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pictures, Part 1

Some pictures from the past couple of months:

Amy climbing into the entertainment center:

Silly girl riding on Daddy's back:

Trying to stab Mama with her impressive hair spike at bathtime:

Posing for the camera at Grammy's:

Practicing Shakespeare: