Thursday, November 29, 2012

Anna's Ornament 2012: Snowman Handprint!

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I have a tradition of buying an ornament for the kids each year. This year, after some Pinterest'ing, I decided to make this snowman handprint ornament. It wasn't a craft I did with Anna...I think she's too young for the small details. All I did was borrow her little hand for the snowman and I finished up after she went to bed.

Well, I can't say that I did much better than what she would have done. Oops! It may look wonky, but I still think it's cute and I love that it's personalized with Anna's two-and-three-quarters years old handprint.  So there you go...my first homemade ornament.

Now that Anna's done, I just have Will to worry about. I tried to do this thumbprint reindeer with him, but he just wasn't cooperating. Grr.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Charlie Brown Kind of Christmas Tree

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Where is Pesto?

This year we wasted no time in setting up our Christmas tree. We did it the day before Thanksgiving.

And this year, we have a new tree! We figured that it was time to retire the little 4 ½-foot tree from our condo-living days and upgrade it to something taller. We paid $50 for this 6 ½-foot pre-lit and….well, you get what you pay for. We say it is the tree from Charlie Brown. You know, twig-y and sparse. The exact opposite of full and beautiful.

But.  Once we dressed it up with ornaments and plugged in the lights, it really doesn’t look half bad. In fact, in complete darkness with just the tree lit up, I will actually use words like colorful and pretty to describe it.

Also new this year – we decorated the staircase with garlands. I still need to find mini red bows and pine cones to decorate it, so it’s not completely finished. But right now, we have 4 ornaments hanging off it, 1 for each of us.

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And Will! I have another video to show you. He’s been walking more and more. Getting so good at it, too. I am totally surprised that he hasn’t gotten into the tree all that much. I was already planning a baby gate around the tree, but I guess we are safe.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

happy thanksgiving!

turkey handprints!
Here is a craft we did the other day for Thanksgiving. I did it with Anna first and then realized that I should do it with Will, too. I didn't bother painting his little fingers with different colors, though. I think it makes a great keepsake!

Supplies: cardstock, paint in different colors, paint brush, googly eye, glue
Then just paint the palm and the thumb of your child's hand brown + paint each of their remaining fingers with different colors.  Stamp their hand on the paper.  Glue on the googly eye.  And finish it off with painting the beak, legs, and the red gobble thing.
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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!  This is our second Thanksgiving as a family of four.  I am so thankful to have my children + husband in my life.  As long as we are happy, healthy and safe, everything else is just extra.

We will be having dinner with hubs' side of the family tonight.  His mom spends the entire day in the kitchen so my mouth is already watering thinking about the yummy goodness.  Needless to say, my tummy will be full and happy tonight.  Hope yours will be too.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The 1-Week Project

The week before Will turned 1, I took a picture of him every day to document his last days of babyhood. I did the same with Anna.

As you can plainly see, nearly all pictures were taken at home. And they were just pictures of Will doing his normal every day things. Not too exciting, but that can be a good thing, too! Definitely glad to have this set of pictures to remember his happy & carefree pre-toddler days.
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Bonus video!

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I really liked this project, but, of course, the idea wasn't mine. Got it from here.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Baby Will Turns One

How fast time flies! Today Will is a whole year old.

A year ago he fit in my arms perfectly.
Baby Will
This year he is a babbling, crawling, fiercely waddling and curious young man who devours everything in sight. Most of the time, he wants nothing to do with my arms anymore. But, he sparkles with charm and I love him dearly.
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I can’t believe I ever said that I wished for another daughter. I am such a fortunate fool, who would never have otherwise known that having a son is just as amazing.

Happy Birthday, Wonkers!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Will's First Birthday Celebration

We had a very simple first birthday celebration for Will last Saturday. We only had a handful of people (our own little family, two sets of grandparents, an uncle, and an aunt) in attendance and I thought it was perfect. The birthday boy was in good spirit the entire time. As soon as we put the birthday crown on him, he gave out the biggest smile as if he knew exactly what was going on. So funny. Have I mentioned lately how much I adore my little man? He's just so cool. Always happy, always curious, and 110% boy.

I didn't put nearly as much energy for Will's first birthday as much as I did with Anna's.... I suppose that's a post for another day... But I want to share the details anyway!

It all started with this balloon invitation I made and sent out via SNAIL mail. The front of the balloon said, “WILL IS ONE”, and the back was details and a promise that there would be balloons. It was easy and fun to make. I even made liners for the envelops.
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Then with exactly FIVE pieces of felt I bought from Michael’s at 29 cents each, we (I cut and hubs’ mom sewed) made several bunting flag garlands and two birthday crowns. It was the best use of a buck fifty.

Unfortunately, Big Sister didn't want anything to do with her crown during the party.
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These Will cake toppers took no time to make. I also made one for Anna with her picture. And since it just so happen to be my sister-in-law’s birthday, I whipped one up for her too. I made the cake the night before and hubs’ frosted in the morning.
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Every birthday party needs a banner.
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I also printed pictures of Will and family and hung them all over the wall. I thought that was the best decoration of all.

3 generations.
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Then we topped everything off with 30 colorful balloons.
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For food, we went with fried chicken and pizza. Not the healthiest variety, but at least we also had plenty of fruit!

Anna and her Aunt & Uncle
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Will received many presents. And money too! To make sure Anna didn't feel left out, we got her a present too. It was a good day for both kids. Our house is officially too small.
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The only "entertainment" we had was trying to get him to pick among a pencil for smarts, money for riches, and strings for long life.

He didn't pick any.
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The party ended with Anna pushing Will in their new buggy around the block.
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So, that was Will's first birthday party. It wasn't at all a big beautiful bash, but this small gathering was sweet and memorable. A big THANKS to my brother and sister-in-law who drove all the way from Pennsylvania to attend. Will sends kisses!!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Birthday Balloon Wreath!

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I love love LOVE the balloon wreath I made in honor of Will’s birthday. Perhaps it was because I hadn’t DIYed in a long time, but this project was very satisfying for me, even though it was super simple.

Here is how I did it:

First, gather the supplies. You will need a straw wreath (mine was 12 inches), extra long satin pins (the original instructions call for u-shaped greening pins, but
Ihubs couldn’t find them for the life of him), and lots of balloons (2 bags of 72 count for me).

Then, take a balloon, push pin through it and into the wreath. Repeat 144 times until the wreath is covered. But, as easy as that sounded, it actually took some practice for me. I wanted the arrangement of the balloons to appear random and the wreath to look even all around. So for every balloon I pinned, I consciously picked the right spot. But once I got the hang of it, it was pretty straight-forward.

I did mine over the course of two nights after the kids were asleep. It didn’t take long, maybe two and half hours, tops.

Anyway, I love it so much that I have decided that I am going to put up the wreath every time we have a birthday in the family. Not just for a day either, but for the entire week! Fun, fun, fun. (insert hubs' eyeroll)

balloon wreath

Before I end this post, I have another Will video! We had a balloon-filled 1st birthday party for him on Saturday, which I will share some pictures later. Sunday morning, though, we woke up and found all the balloons had fallen. Here is Will at his own after party.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Will Walks!

Exciting news! Will has been slowly taking one or two independent steps, but yesterday he had a breakthrough and took 5+ independent steps! I am sad that I wasn’t there to witness it….I guess that’s the real life of being a working mom…but at least hubs recorded it for me (and for the blog) to see.

I remember that with Anna, we made a huge deal whenever she hit a major milestone. And cheered her on. But, with Will, he does all sort of fun stuff, and we just kind of overlook it. It’s not intentional. Anna was our only focus back then so we had more time to take note. And now…well, I guess I take advantage of the fact that Will is an easy baby that I still do more with Anna. Definitely need to fix that asap.

On another note, Will is one week away from turning 1 year old. He’s my happy + sweet baby. He doesn’t always go down for naps easily, but he never fusses when it’s time for bed. After finishing his bottle, I sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, give him a tight hug, and put him down in the crib. I tuck him in with his blanket and say bye bye and wave. He smiles and I close the door behind me. I don’t know when he actually falls asleep, but I never hear another peep. I think all the Moms and Dads will agree with me that this is worth its weight in gold.

Anyway! Here is the video.

[+/-] Extra Sugar!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti (Rotini)

I don’t do it nearly enough, but I really like cooking with crock pot. The convenience can’t be beat. And it’s a total time-saver. Hmm..I guess the reason why I don’t use it often is because I don’t know enough crock pot recipes, but I tried this one the other day that I think will become a staple in our household this winter.

Anna likes the meaty marinara pasta from Pizza Hut so I made this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti (except I used rotini pasta) a couple Saturdays ago. I think the kids slept in that day, so by the time they woke up and came downstairs, I had already threw everything in the crock pot. Then I let it cook while we went about our day. 4-5 hours later, we had a hot meal waiting for us! It was great, we ate it all up. I am not a cheese-y person so I pretty much halved the amount of cheese called for in the original recipe, but use more if you love cheese.

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti (Rotini)

1/4 lb ground pork
2 Italian sausage links (casings removed)
1 medium onion, chopped
A dash of garlic powder
2 (25 ounces) jars pasta sauce + a touch more
1/3 (15 ounces) container ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 (16 ounce) box rotini pasta

Cook ground pork, sausages, and onion in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink. Stir in garlic powder to evenly coat meat; stir in pasta sauce. Set aside.

Mix 1 cup mozzarella, the ricotta, and parmesan in a medium bowl. Spray the entire crock pot with Pam. Spoon 2 cups of meat sauce into the crock pot and top with 2 cups rotini. Drop half of the cheese mixture, by rounded tablespoons, over rotini and carefully spread over rotini using back of spoon. Layer with 2 cups meat sauce, the remaining rotini, and remaining cheese. Add remaining meat sauce, completely covering all the rotini and cheese.

Cook on high for 1 hour, then low for 3-4 hours or until noodles are tender. (I cooked on high for an hour while we were still at home, eating breakfast and getting ready. When we left home, I turned it down to low.)

Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle food with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella; let stand 10 minutes until melted. Serve directly from crock pot.

Preparation took about 20 minutes...
Slow Cooker Baked Ziti
The result was flavorful, not too dry not too saucy. Anna nearly cleaned her plate!
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This recipe is definitely a keeper. I am going to try using lasanga noodles next time!

[+/-] Extra Sugar!