Monday, August 30, 2010

Surprise Party

Stephanie was turning 30. When I contacted her husband, he let me know that Lisa had already contacted him. So we worked together. I did the food and Lisa did the decor for the surprise party.

It took me a while to come up with an appropriate menu for a 5 course dessert tasting. Especially one that could be easily transported. After much testing and thinking, I had it down. And, Jason and the kids didn't mind the many baking experiments I did in the process.
I began with my Mom's yummy strawberry dip - romanoff. I used an egg slicer to cut all the strawberries and put the romanoff in a squeeze bottle to make it look more elegant and easily transported.
The second course was a mini version of my mint chocolate brownie cupcakes. I figured a full size cupcake would sugar us all out by the second course. And, they just were so adorable in miniature.
The third course was Jason's famous homemade cake batter ice cream. Yes, in those two courses we accomplished the obligatory birthday cake and ice cream and did it without putting two chocolate items next to each other. I used a cookie scoop to accomplish the perfect little rounds. Oh, and we had a lot of fun with the dry ice that we used in transporting the ice cream after we got home!
I also did the peanut butter chocolate cookies from this post, but learned to bake them for only 9 minutes or they were just too dry, for the fourth course. And we ended with one of Steph's favorite treats - key lime pie! I made them individual sized in prepared graham cracker crusts that apparently can only be purchased at Walmart. I put a candle - purple to match Lisa's decor - in the pie and we all sung to her. I think she enjoyed it!
The night was lovely and filled with lots of laughs and stories. The food was well-received, the company was great, and the paper cranes floating above our heads made it magical. It was a wonderful time!
** Thank you to Lisa for the pictures! I was a complete airhead and forgot my camera.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dipped Cones and Girlfriends

I know I've said it before, but I'm saying it again...I have the best girlfriends ever!!! We've done lots of fun things together this last little while.

We have been talking about seeing a play (Shakespearean Festival, Tuacahn, etc) as a group of girls for a while now. So, when Karyn's good friend from home was starring in They're Playing Our Song we were happy to all go together. We had some good laughs, a wonderful long drive with catching up, enjoyable entertainment, and dipped cones!
Clothing Swap
My friend Christy hosted a clothing swap. It was a great chance for me to get in exchange some new-to-me clothes for my wool (allergies) items and pants (too low for a 3 time c-sectioner). I had fun with Andrea B. and came away with jeans, shoes and shirts. It was a great idea and a very successful party.

I wanted to have a joint celebration for my friend Steph and Jason as their birthdays are only a week apart. Steph and I met in Japanese class a bazillion years ago, so it was appropriate that we went to Sushi House on a double date with our hubbies. The kids had a great time together with the babysitter and then stalling as we were happy to chat and let them play some more. This is how we all look from Laura's perspective and how the kids look from my perspective!
Andrea and I took our Moms and had a lovely evening trolling the Pleasant Grove Promenade. We found some fantastic deals on jewelry and some other great items for the kids. My favorite find ($3) was this hat for Sara - yes, it's purple. And, of course, we went out for dipped cones afterwards!

Mommy Menu Savers - Week 2

My tips for easy menus this week.

  • Cook all the hamburger with frozen pre-diced onions and pre-chopped garlic for the tacos. Take out half and throw in the fridge for sloppy joes to be warmed mixed with Manwich later in the week. Add favorite taco seasonings to the rest and serve that night.
  • Menu for pasta HERE. And I use the chicken strips mentioned last week.
  • Pre-sliced mushrooms for the Marsala and a bag salad.
  • Shrimp Pasta is made with 2 boxes of Pasta Roni Garlic and Olive oil. I sautee the frozen deveined shrimp with garlic and olive oil in a separate pan and add them together while the sauce thickens the last 5 mins.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Zoo - End of Summer

The girls and I had to cram in couple last trips to the zoo before school started for Laura and she could no longer come along. So, we first went with Deb and her kids, and she has better write ups HERE and HERE. She was a wonderful photographer - I was incredibly lazy that day. But, it was a treat that we each got pictures of ourselves WITH our kids.
We also had an extra fun time at the playground before it got too hot; something we rarely do. We also enjoyed the Elephant Show, the train and carousel, watching some absolutely crazy penguins, saying "hi" to Acara, and a leisurely pace and a cooler day.
Then a few days later we had a girl cousin get-together at the zoo with Jason's sister and her younger girls. Cousins are extra special friends!
The highlights other than just hanging out with great cousins, and for me catching up with Keri, were the elephant show, the carousel, ice cream, and touring the reptile/small animal house where there were lots of babies. It was a bummer that we had to bounce earlier than we wanted due to a b-day party Laura needed to attend. However, it was a great time and I'm glad it finally came together.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mommy Menu Savers - Week 1

My tricks for making this week's menus (shown on sidebar) quickly and easily.
  • Steak, for the salad and Enchiladas, is from Costco in the refrigerated section. It is pre-cooked, sliced and $10 for a bag. I use a little less than half the bag for these 2 menus and freeze the other half.
  • Pre-cooked grilled chicken strips (1 cup thawed in the microwave and diced) from Costco or the grocery store, along with canned mandarin oranges make the Asian salad a breeze. A good asian dressing is the key.
  • Enchiladas are cooked with frozen sliced tri-color peppers. I cook the peppers, sliced red onion and warm the meat in Sprite (about 1/3 can) instead of oil with my spices. For condiments I use pre-shredded cheese, half a can of black beans, and leftover tomatoes and lettuce from the salads, and leftover sour cream from the pork chops. My picky kids can go with a meal that is as simple as a bean enchilada from all the same prep.
  • The beans that go along with the crock pot pork get a boost of flavor by first sauteeing a handful of diced pre-cooked bacon (thank you Macey's) to render out a little fat, then tossing in a bag of frozen french green beans and clamping down the lid until tender stirring occasionally.

If you have any questions or want full recipes, let me know!

Jason's Birthday - 35

YAY! This was our 8th of Jason's birthdays that we have spent together. We didn't get as much time together as we would've liked - stinking work - but it was a good time nonetheless.

His birthday began early when we just couldn't stand using the push mower on the huge lawn anymore. It was taking 2.5 hours and we were having to do it almost 3 times a week. It was good for weight loss, but awful for family time! With the riding mower it takes 45 minutes and a lot less sweating and allergies. It's a lifesaver!
Then on the Sunday before J's birthday, his Mom threw a party for all the August birthdays (J, TJ and MissE) at her house. We had cake and ice cream, fun times with the kids and caught some great pics of the 3 yr old girls.
Since it was a workday and we had just thrown a huge party for Eliza's birthday we kept Jason's a little more low key. When he got home from work - a little early, wahoo - we had my folks over. Jason opened presents with help from the girls and blew out candles also with help from the girls.
He received two shirts - Utah Jazz and Mickey - and a Wii remote charger from us. And he got a cool grilling rack and tool bag from my parents.
We then went out to dinner at Jason's favorite meaty, manly restaurant, Rib City, for the best babybacks within an hour drive, in our opinion. I had arranged this far in advance in order to reserve both sets of grandparents for the occasion and to get us a good discount from City deals. Eliza loved the food, the girls ate their weight, and Jason definitely got his fill as well. It was a great time with wonderful food, company and conversation!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

National S'mores Day

We didn't celebrate on the actual day Aug 10th, but we celebrated National S'mores Day the Saturday before. Our bishop had assigned everyone in the ward groups for block parties and I served a S'mores buffet at ours. Only 2 of the 4 families showed up (fortunately the other family are our good friends Nicholas, Stacey and Abbie) so it was small and a grand time. However, I found out AFTER the buffet that Stacey is dumb did I feel?!
The buffet was a hit. We added peanut butter, sliced bananas, Petite Ecolier, and dark chocolate to the traditional milk chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. It made wonderful S'mores. I thought about doing sliced maraschino cherries and strawberries, as well as flavored marshmallows and nutela, but I wimped out. My favorite was peanut butter and dark chocolate with 2 marshmallows. We roasted the marshmallows on the skewers over our gas stove. These were a great treat and I can't wait to go all out on a serious S'mores-gasbord party someday soon!! Would you be interested in coming??

Friday, August 13, 2010

Oh, What Do You Do in the Summertime...

Oh, what is a Mommy to do in the summertime when swim lessons, vacations, and piano is over? The books have been read a million times, we're starting on too much TV and video games, and sometimes the weather won't let you play outside. This Mommy is trying to get creative. Here's what we have been doing these past couple of weeks to help make the days where we have nothing planned, and the weather is not cooperative, a little less "boring".
We've made new treats like these mini peanut butter kiss cups.
We've had tea parties!
We had a daytime sleepover complete with movies and popcorn, jammies all day, makeovers with pedicures and hairdos, makeshift sleeping bags, and pillow fights. Eliza thought the pillow fights were hilarious and loved having everyone with her on the floor all day.
We made our own puppets and put on a puppet show.
We've dressed up and had dance parties.
We checked out the crazy hail and learned all about precipitation.
We've done silly fashion shows.
Most of the time it is nice outside, and when it is, we have been making great use out of the newly fenced and grassed, safe, less-allergenic, yard. Though there is still some work to be done the major stuff is complete and it's just heavenly!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Eliza's 1st Birthday - PARTY!

I'm finally getting around to the rest of Eliza's first birthday party post. She gobbled up her birthday dinner and the big girls adored each having a grandma and a grandpa to sit next to them. Eliza was very interested in the singing, but she hated the birthday hat!
Initially, Eliza was tentative about eating her own cupcake. That ended quickly and she totally got into it. I was glad that I had not mopped before the party.
After the cupcakes, there was no way to clean her except the bath. Eliza thought that was a great idea on her birthday because she ADORES the bathtub.
After she was all cleaned up and coronated (I had to do something for the birthday princess if the hat was not an option, right?!) she opened presents up on the big chair. Cue the terrified mommy here, but Daddy was right, she stayed put.
Everyone got to help her open the present they gave to her and be very close for her darling reactions. Eliza definitely improved her wrapping paper tearing abilities by the end.
Eliza adored all her gifts, but especially the baby doll from her sisters, the new binkys (the old ones were gross, in my fastidious opinion) from her parents and the books from both sets of grandparents. It was a great party to celebrate our magic baby!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eliza's 1 Year Pictures - Final Attempt

My mom spoke the truth to me when she told me that if I wondered whether or not I should take more pictures, I would never be completely satisfied with the ones I had already taken. Note to self: listen to your mother, she's right!! So, when the light was good (cloudy) I set up the background and went to town. Don't you agree that they are much better and worth the effort?! Thanks for the advice, Mom!

I am much happier!! The lighting is so much better, and the big girls helped me get some amazing shots of MissE! We captured her big smile and even found her eyes. Love that baby!!

But, while we were waiting for Eliza to wake up from her nap, the big girls let me take pictures of them too. Sara was surprisingly accommodating (except she wouldn't let me do her hair, fortunately it had just been washed) throughout the process and I ended up with these two beauties. I think she looks much too old in them, and just gorgeous!
Laura was amazing and perfectly photogenic as always. She turned out beautiful in every shot, but I think these two ended up as my favorites. What a (toothless) stunner!
I ended up stepping on a wasp and getting stung while putting the supplies away. I guess that's what I get for not wearing shoes - I didn't want footprints on the backdrop, alas. But despite the sting and consequent benadryl-induced stupor, I'm happy with the result!