Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Working From Home Fashion

Fashion is quite the understatement because I have none of it.  Zero fashion sense.  I love shopping and lurking on fashion and beauty boards but I can't translate the styles to my every day life.  I work from home and don't even leave the house many days so it doesn't make sense for me to get all "dolled" up.  When I worked in an office, I always dressed up, did my hair and makeup.  Now?  I don't do my makeup unless it's a weekend and we are going somewhere.  I do get dressed but it's in jeans and not work slacks.  And my hair is typically in a ponytail.

I try not to look like a complete slouch but let's face it, my days are mostly spent in jeans.  I posted an outfit below that is very typical for me.  I own the boots in the picture as well as a similar leopard scarf and cardigan.

Like the pop of color?  Yeah, because no one want to wear just grey and black all the time.

Work style

H M v neck cardigan
$20 -

Rock republic

Steve Madden leather boots

Nelly Accessories leopard print scarve
$31 -

I wear scarves a lot.  I own probably 10 different ones that I rotate out on a daily basis.  I also own a lot of cardigans and sweaters in neutral colors.  That allows me to mix and match my sweaters with fun accessories and shirts that are not boring (like the pink tank above).  

I do most of my shopping at Kohl's, Target and Old Navy.  I don't like to spend a lot of money on clothes since I beat them up.  I get food on them, baby spit, baby poop (no, really), and all kinds of other stuff.  I need clothes that are washable and able to be tumble dried.  

If I find something I love, like the boots above, I will spend the money.  Those boots are so comfortable and worth the $90 I spent.  I wear them all the time and they are both diverse and classic.  I can wear them with dresses, leggings and jeans.

See?  No fashion sense at all.  But that's okay.  I am more interesting in other areas of my life, ha!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Favorite Things - Kids Edition

The boys got so many toys for Christmas and birthdays (even though Jack hasn't had his yet) and I want to highlight some of their favorites along with easy shopping links.

Cal got two of these for his birthday and it is a huge hit!  We are keeping one at our house and the other over at my in-laws house.  He adores opening and closing cabinets, doors and drawers so the little doors on this are perfect.  And he presses the doorbell over and over again.  I love that it has a handle to be able to carry it around.  I have toted it to doctor's appointments so he has something to do in the waiting room.

LeapFrog My Discovery House

Each side has different house-related activities (a refrigerator, a bathroom) and there are plenty of knobs, bottons, sliders to keep your little one occupied.  Hopefully Jack won't be embarrassed for me to say this, but he adores it as well.

Fisher Price Little People Music Parade ride-on

This was Cal's "big" gift for his birthday.  Jason and I came up with this gift because Cal loves music and Jason suggested a ride-on toy.  This is the best of both worlds!

Cal is just learning how to actually scoot on this toy.  He goes backwards really well but forwards is taking a little more time.  He absolutely LOVES pressing all the buttons and gears to get the truck to play songs and make music sounds.  I love that it is a small ride on toy and it does more than just drive.  Cal and Jack love that the seat opens up for a secret compartment, perfect for stashing important things like cups and pacis.

Okay, so this isn't a toy but nonetheless, Jack LOVES it.  He requests a dinosaur sandwich almost every day for lunch.  He doesn't eat the crust on his sandwiches so this cutter is perfect for getting rid of the crust as well as make his sandwich fun.

I am going to have to find out where my mother-in-law bought this so I can pick up another shape.  I think he would really like different shapes to change things up a bit.

B Toys Dr. Doctor

Jack got this from Santa and at first, he didn't pay much attention to it.  After a few weeks of visits to our pediatrician due to sickness and well-child checks, he plays with this all the time.  It's almost as if he remembers what the pediatrician did and wants to mimic it.  He walks around with the stethoscope on his neck and asks to listen to my heart.  He also likes using the ear scope and checking for germs in our ears.  It's really sweet and I think it helps him not be scared when he goes to the doctor.

I love having learning toys on hand for my boys and this company has a great message. Toys that inspire creativity while being eco-friendly at the same time.  No extra packaging, boxes that wrap themselves and they give money to help children in need.  Check out their website for fun quotes by real kids.

Bristle Blocks Jungle Adventure Bucket

I.....ahem........Santa picked this bucket up at Costco for a steal and I am glad I did!  Jack and Cal both love it.  Cal has a blast putting two blocks together and then taking them apart over and over again.  Jack builds toy guys (sigh......boys) and huge towers.  Maybe not for the intended purpose but that's okay.

I like that the bucket has a lid where you can build your treasure.  I also like the fun animals, trees and vines that come with this set.  It makes it so much more interesting than just plain ole blocks.

I hope this post might help out someone who is shopping for their toddler.  My kids love it so of course your's will too (ha!).

Skillet Brownies

I got a cast iron skillet for Christmas and I got to use it twice in the past few days.  The first time, I cooked steaks that were seared in the pan and finished in the oven.  The second time, last night, I made dessert!

I got this recipe from Amanda's Cookin' and they didn't disappoint!  My favorite thing about this recipe is that it didn't dirty many dishes since you cook and then bake the brownies right in the skillet.  No extra mixing bowls or pans to use!

First, you melt the butter and chocolate in the skillet over very low heat.

Then you mix in the two types of sugar.

Then you mix in vanilla, eggs (one at a time) and finally the dry ingredients (flour and salt).

The final mixture looks just like regular brownie mix.

Once baked, they come out a chewy, fudgy, rich brownie.  Oh my goodness, these are amazing! 

Enjoy these babies with a cold glass of milk.


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Place cast iron skillet on stovetop burner.
  2. Cut butter into 6 chunks and place in skillet with the chocolate. Cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  3. Because the heat is low, it can take some time, so measure out your other ingredients while it's melting, so you aren't tempted to turn up the heat!
  4. When the chocolate and butter are completely melted, remove pan from the heat and add both sugars. Stir until everything is combined.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, stir well after each addition.
  6. Add vanilla, stir well.
  7. Add flour and salt and stir until there are no traces of flour left.
  8. Use a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to clean off the sides and get all the batter into the middle.
  9. Place skillet in the oven and bake for 50 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center to test for doneness. Toothpick should come out clean, with the possibility of a couple of crumbs. If it's still wet, put back in the oven and bake at 5 minute intervals.
  10. Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Cal's Party in Pictures

Since we are coming up on Jack's birthday (this Saturday, eeek!), I suppose it's time for pictures of Cal's party.  You have seen the cake progression and the details, but here are some other pictures from the day.

The Birthday boy enjoying some lunch.

There were a lot of guests!  I believe there were 20 people, including my family of 4.

The house was full of people!

Jack fully enjoyed helping Cal open gifts.

But Cal took the time to shake around some of his giftwrap.

Ooooh, ribbons!

This smile kills me.  Time for cake!

Three of the five kiddos enjoying some cake.  I love how Hazel dressed for the occasion!

Cal eating his cake.  That is Jason's grandma in the background.

Cal had quite the haul of presents.  I should have told people not to bring gifts since we just had Christmas and the house is already full of gifts.  But, I am glad I didn't because Cal got some of the neatest stuff and he's in love with a few of them.  I am going to do a separate post on some of the boys' favorite toys.

Cal is such a joy and everyone at the party said how much fun he was.  I love you little buddy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cal's Birthday Party - Details

Since Cal isn't old enough to show an interest in what his "theme" for his party should be, I made the executive decision for a Mickey Mouse birthday.  Every time Mickey Mouse Clubhouse comes on Disney Junior, he stops what he is doing and waddles to the tv to watch.

Since I am not a crafty person at all, I relied heavily on Pinterest, Etsy and other sources for ideas and crafts.

Here was my inspiration for the invitations:

We got ones that were almost identical with the exception of the font.  The font we had was more "Disney".  They turned out great!

The banner I ordered from Etsy and am so please with how it turned out!  Like the reflection of me in the mirror?  I wore black and red for the occasion.

Close up

Pinterest was my inspiration when it came to the food.  Since the "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" show has a Hot Diggety Dog song, I went with that!  

I served Hot Dog Hot Dog Hot Diggety Dogs, Pluto's Pasta Salad and Goofy's Goofy Fruit.  All of the serving bowls came from the Dollar Tree and all the plates, cups, napkins, forks, tablecloth came from Party City.

I made the food tags and used cut outs from Mickey flashcards from the Dollar Tree.

Balloons!  Red, black, white and yellow of course.

My one disappointment was the cake.  When I ordered it, I requested a cake with red icing.  I know red icing can be achieved because the same bakery made Jack's Elmo cake last year.  When the lady at the bakery opened the box, my first words were "It's pink".  Oh well, it tasted great!  Chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling and buttercream frosting.  My very talented friend who is a pastry chef made the cake topper.

See?  It's pink!

Finally, there was the punch table.  I used this recipe for punch and it was a hit!  I laid out the invitations for Jack's birthday, extra invites for Cal and the cookie favors that my awesome friend made.

I love this ribbon too!  I really lucked out when I found it at Michael's.  Hmmm, not sure why the picture shows rotated.

I made the kids birthday hats as well using a template I found online.  Next time, I will make bigger hats because they didn't even fit my peanut head Cal.

All said and done, here is the estimated cost of everything that was spent on the party:

Presents for Cal:  $55
Cake:  $40
Decorations (balloons and banner):  $40
Favors and Cake topper:  $60
Food:  $75
Invites:  $20
Paper goods (napkins, plates, etc.):  $30
Serving items:  $5
Misc (ribbon, favor bags):  $10

Total cost:  $335

I wanted to keep it under $300.  I may have overestimated on the food, but I didn't keep a receipt.

We had a blast and I am proud to say that even though I stole many of the ideas, I made a few things and the party was successful!

Next post:  Party pictures!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits

* I haven't been knitting a lot lately.  Due to the fact that I had to take a project out and start over, I lost my momentum.  I think I am going to re-start it tonight though.  Knitting is good for my soul.  Plus, I need to get back into the swing because I am going to a Stitch and Bitch gathering on the 27th.

* My birthday is coming up and I haven't made any plans.  If anyone asks me what I want, I am going to request a massage, a pedicure and a night off from the boys.  Maybe my in-laws will watch them overnight.  It would be awesome to sleep in and just enjoy watching Food Network with no interruptions.

* Cal is cutting his left canine tooth and he's miserable.  I would love for him to get back to his regular sleeping pattern because waking up 6-7 times a night is exhausting for all of us.

* Speaking of sleep, what is with Jack and getting up at 5:00 and climbing into bed with us or joining me on the couch?  I often end up on the couch because Jason snores so badly.  Jack bounds out from his bedroom, shuts his door and climbs onto the couch with me and goes back to sleep.  I am starting to wonder if he's having bad dreams.

* I ordered a potty training book off of a recommendation from Erin.  Flame away.  Jack isn't potty trained.  He will pee on the toilet if prompted but has only pooped twice.  He flat out refuses to poop.  This book is written for different kinds of personalities and types of children.  Maybe it will work?  One can only hope.

* I want to start running.  I went shopping with my Christmas money and got shoes and running clothes.  I just need to start.  My only problem is figuring out what to do in terms of a stop watch.  Any ideas?  The Couch to 5K program goes in intervals and I don't have a watch or timer to be able to figure out my intervals and when to run and walk.

* We are all taking probiotics in our house.  After the nasty stomach bug we all had, some of us still are having "bathroom" issues.  I am hoping the probiotics get our guts back in working order.

* Thank God for Augmentin.  I have no more signs of a sinus infection.  After a day of taking pills, I was feeling so much better and my head didn't feel like exploding.

That is about it for now.  I still owe my readers (like I actually have many, ha!) two posts about Cal's birthday.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Cake Progression

I decided to do separate posts for Cal's party since there are so many pictures!  The party went off without a hitch.  Well, a couple of minor hitches.  Cal was sick the night before but he was better by morning.  And the cake was not red like I had ordered.

I will do a post of Cal pictures from the party, along with a post just of the decorations, food, etc.

For now, without further ado, here is the progression of the cake mess.

Before the cake was given to him.  Nice and clean!  And happy!

Ooooh, what's this stuff?

I think I will just stick my finger right in there.

Oh, this might taste good.

What?  Make more of a mess?

Daddy was encouraging him.

Smoosh, smoosh, smoosh

What cake?  I don't see any cake?

Yay!  This tastes good!

I am over this

Sugar high!

How much of a mess did I make?

I have frosting in my ear.  Not happy about that at all.

I am done.  Get me outta herrreeeee!