Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weekend Recap + Furniture Steals

Ellie slept at my parents Friday night for the first time with her two cousins. She was so excited. Every time she talked about it she lit up. They went out to dinner and ice cream, watched a movie and had the best time. I love that the three of them are so close and that they love sleepovers at Grandmom and Pop Pop's house!

Ellie to Summer: "Summer, are you going to miss me? It's okay I will always be by your side."

Nick and I had plans to watch a movie together, but Summer didn't go down until 9:45. Nick was already asleep and I was tired myself. So, it was a pretty uneventful night. I did wake at 6:30 the next morning and went for a great 5 mile run before Summer even woke. It was nice to have a quiet house. However, we did miss Ellie even though she was only gone one night!

 I started before my watch did so it was exactly 5 miles!

I scored these chairs for $10 a pair. They were posted on Facebook and they even dropped them off to me. They need new paint and reupholstery. I just need to decide on the fabric. They are gorgeous and I absolutely love them!

Summer and I also bought this globe yesterday morning for only $20. I have been wanting to get one for the girls playroom and this was another great deal. I love the gold. I pointed out to Ellie where we live and she asked for me to show her where her Aunt Mia lives and other places I've been to.

Summer and I then met my Mom, Ellie and her cousins at a Fair. I used to go here when I was little and it's so fun I can now take my girls. Ellie was so tired from the sleepover that she fell asleep on the fire engine truck ride! We played some games and Ellie got a lemon stick. Two minutes later after this picture the candy stick got stuck in her hair. She continued to eat it without it (she loves lemons). It was a fun afternoon!

This morning I went to my Barre class, then reffed lacrosse tryouts in the afternoon (I ran 4 miles). Tonight we went out to dinner (kids eat free on Sundays). We had to stop for kids toothpaste on the way home and the girls and I walked home from there. It was a nice end to the weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Favorites

I've rounded up a few of my current favorites today:

What I'm Loving Now

I'm thinking of buying these two prints. The Roses one for our downstairs bathroom and the Ginger print for our living room. That snow cone maker reminds me of a Snoopy one I had growing up. It would be a special treat for the girls on hot days. These grill pans would get a lot of use since we've been using our grill a lot lately. It would be perfect for cooking veggies, sliced potatoes and shrimp.

Today Ellie has soccer and we usually get to the park early to play at the playground and have a picnic. Tomorrow Summer has a makeup Little Gym class and we are going to a fair so that will be fun for the girls. Sunday I'm doing my Barre class and I am working lacrosse tryouts later that afternoon. It's supposed be another weekend of hot weather! We skipped spring this year and went straight from very cold to very hot (80s). Hope you have a great weekend!

** Affliliate links are used in this post. These are all items I love and would like to purchase!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Recap

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and a Happy Mother's Day. I sure did! Every year is great, but it just gets better. I'm so thankful and blessed to be Ellie and Summer's Mommy and I think about it everyday. Having children was the best thing that has ever happened to me (I know I've said this before) and I couldn't imagine life any other way. 

My husband promised me that he would take care of the girls all day and I could do what I wanted. He told me to pamper myself with a massage and manicure and pedicure, which was so nice! The woman I prefer at 3000 BC wasn't working on Sunday so I didn't get a massage. I did get a manicure and pedicure and added the extra ten minute massage. I started my morning getting up early and was surprised with flowers, balloons, and cards. It was Ellie's idea to "make Mommy pumpkin muffins because she loves them." So, Nick and Ellie baked me muffins and they were delicious. I had it along with a cup of coffee on my way to run in Chestnut Hill. // Side note: I ended up dropping the top half of my iPhone in my coffee, but luckily it is still working after I put it in rice! Close call! // 

I had a short, but good, sweaty run before my favorite Barre class. Again, I had to remind myself not to run before Barre as my legs were burning on top of what I normally feel. My favorite teacher (and owner) was teaching so I knew it would be an amazing workout. I love this class. It's so worth the $$. She incorporates some yoga and pilates and not only is it a tough, strenuous workout, but it's relaxing, too. Thanks to my cousin for introducing me! 

After my nail appointment (I got pink because Ellie wanted me, too) we went to see Nick's Mom and stayed for an hour. Then, we had to get home to nap Summer. First, we did the hand prints for my Mom's terracotta pot. I remembered painting her a pot back in High School and she has kept it all these years! We did the hand prints, I wrote on it, and Ellie painted in a heart I drew. Summer is not a fan of getting paint on her hands so I had to bribe her with an M&M. 

During Summer's nap my Mom came over to work in our garden and Ellie helped her. I bought her child size gardening gloves from Target and she was excited she could help Grandmom. Seriously, it's the sweetest thing that Ellie enjoys working in the garden with her. Last week when we went to the plant store to buy the pot I pointed out the bulldozer working with the piles of mulch. Ellie said, "Did Grandmom put the mulch there?" I just love that she associates all flowers and gardens with my Mom. Ellie also put on her bathing suit to be sprayed with the hose so she had a fun time outside.

My Dad made dinner for my Mom, Nana, and my family. My brother and his family had other plans so we missed them, of course, but it was nice to have one on one time with my parents. My Dad made a delicious dinner of a watermelon salad and an amazing Shrimp Scampi entree with fresh pasta. I'm still thinking about it and have to make it soon. Ellie sang "You are My Sunshine" for everyone and the girls played in the field across the street for a while with my Mom. It was a great evening! 

 My parents and the girls. Definitely framing this one!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekend Recap + Broad Street Run

Saturday morning Ellie had a birthday party at a playground for her friend Amelie. I took the girls since Nick was working. I love this playground and had only been there once before (the first time Summer sat up by herself!). 

Afterwards I had to make a quick Target trip to return a dress from the Lilly line. I ended up buying the same dress I had gotten for Ellie in 18 months for Summer. They had a few things on the rack. Then, we went home and left soon after for the Union game. My sister was in town this weekend with her husband. She had planned this event for his birthday gift and our whole family went. It was a lot of fun. All the kids came, too. It was just so great to be all together. We won't see them for a while (except for Face Time). We will miss them!

After the game we all went to dinner, then home to bed since 3 of us had the Broad Street Run in the morning. I was undecided last week if I was even going to run it. I knew I could run 10 miles since last Tuesday I ran 9. But, with everything that had gone on the past few months I just didn't know if I should do it. Plus, I tweaked a glute muscle a few days before and didn't want to further injure it. Anyway, I decided to just persevere and do it. I just wanted to run it and not worry about the time. This was my Mom's 30th Broad Street Run and I wanted to do it with her. She is amazing!! She has only missed it 3 times since she started- her third pregnancy, a broken foot, and for Summer's birth. I hope I can keep up with the tradition. This year was my second Broad Street Run. My sister-in-law, Katie, also ran the race.

I really haven't been drinking much coffee lately, but had 2 K-cups that morning along with a little oatmeal. I made a peanut butter and honey sandwich (my pre-race staple) to eat on the way. And, lots of water. My Dad was nice enough to drive us to the race this year instead of trying to find parking. We got down at 7:10 and immediately got in the long bathroom line. Katie and I decided to go again before the race started (thank goodness we did!), but I missed my Mom at the start. 

The race started earlier this year at 8am; however, by the time we crossed the starting line it was about 8:45. And, it was so crowded at the beginning of the race it was tough to move through the crowd. I didn't start as fast as I would have liked. I kept the same pace throughout the whole race- 9 minute miles. At mile 2 my right hamstring started to hurt and I feared I'd have to stop because of it. But, I didn't stop and eventually it felt better. I remembered that I hadn't stretched really all week. It was something I had planned to do, but just didn't have the time (or didn't make it a priority). The first 5 miles were easy and I felt great. At mile 7 I thought to myself I could slow down and then bump out the last 2 miles. But, I really didn't slow down and just kept going. It was hot in the sun and I got water at every station- a couple sips then threw the rest on my body to cool me down.

My Mom and I finished within 2 minutes of each other. I finished around the same time as last year, maybe a minute later, at 1:35. I was extremely happy with my time since I hadn't been training for it, but really I was happier just to be able to run. It's such a great race. I love that the city comes out to cheer and really encourages everyone that passes by. It's such a great feeling! Makes me love Philadelphia even more. The Broad Street Run is such a great race.

Here are a couple pictures my husband took when I got home. Again, this year he tracked me as I ran the race, which is so cool that he can do that. You can see my race recap from last year here.

Shorts / Tank / Sneakers / Watch (similar)

I took a nap that afternoon when Summer napped. I was exhausted from the week and just not getting enough sleep. Then, of course from running in the heat. Nick and the girls took me to dinner to celebrate my race. I had shrimp stuffed with crab meat. The girls were so great at dinner coloring and doing crafts. Summer is finally at an age where she will sit still and keep herself occupied and Nick and I (for the most part) can have a conversation. I also ran into a friend from High School/College so it was nice to catch up with her!

Dress / Sandals / Necklace (similar) / Watch

 Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Today is the last day of Summer being a 1 year old. She turns 2 tomorrow!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Princess Elsa Cake: All the Details!

As mentioned in my previous post, the best aspect of the party (in our opinion!) was the cake I made. This was my first time ever making a cake and for some insane reason I decided to have my first cake experience the night before their party. At 2am Saturday night I was wondering why in the world I decided to do this. In the end it turned out better than I expected and it was definitely a hit. My greatest compliment was that it looked professional. The one that meant the most was Ellie's. At bedtime I asked Ellie her favorite part of the day and her response was, "The cake!"

I had gotten the idea from my friend Melanie who made an Ariel cake for her daughter last year. She bakes cakes all the time and told me how easy it was.....needless to say it was difficult for me being a novice. Prior to Saturday night I watched lots of You Tube videos, read about the cake making process online, and purchased all of my supplies. I also had never experimented much with Wilton decorating accessories so this was another thing I had to learn while making the cake. By the second batch of icing I had it down.

My friend had mentioned her cake wasn't tall enough for the Ariel doll she used so I baked an additional 8" cake to place below the princess mold. Wilton sells this Wonder Mold Set. It includes a plastic barbie-like head, which I replaced with an Elsa doll and wrapped her legs with Saran wrap as other reviews had mentioned. My greatest struggle with the cake was removing it from the pans as I feared it would all fall apart. After reading online I wrapped both of the pans with Saran wrap and aluminum foil and put them in the freezer hoping for the best. I woke at 5:30 (yes, only 3.5 hours of sleep). I crossed my fingers that the cakes would come out in one piece and they did! Thank goodness. I was so happy and so relieved.

The next part was the icing. I used this buttercream recipe and highly recommend it. I had ordered these gel icing colors from Amazon and, again, it was my first time making icing and decorating. I had to make so much icing. Thankfully my Kitchen Aid mixer works so well and my arms wouldn't have lasted if I had to use a hand mixer! The one pain was that the butter kept sticking inside the whisk and I had to use a knife each time to get it out after mixing. I wonder if there is a little trick I should know about... The key step in the icing is to make sure you invest in a really good vanilla (my friend suggested this). I bought one from Williams Sonoma and I really think it makes a difference. After making the buttercream each time I transferred it to a bowl and added the gel. I misunderstood the directions when it said the color would be darker on the cake than in the icing (if that makes sense). Then, again I was also a little out of it from lack of sleep and the stress of getting it done. My icing was a light aqua and for some reason I thought it would show up darker as I decorated it. Well, it did not so Elsa had a light aqua dress. As my friend Melanie said, the kids won't even notice and she was right. No one even pointed it out. Seriously, I think they were more fixated on Elsa and her big beautiful dress made of cake!

As mentioned, I wrapped Elsa's legs in Saran wrap and after removing the metal pole in the center of the dome I stuck her in there. She was, in fact, too tall for the cake so I started with the 8" cake. I added a layer of white buttercream icing (no gel), then layered the dome cake on top. I pushed Elsa all the way down into both cakes and it was perfect.

I used this recommended technique (Glorious Treats) of putting the bag into a glass and folding down the sides to scoop in the icing, then bringing the sides of the bag back up. It worked perfectly. It took a few vertical lines on the cake to figure how the best way and I was able to fill in the imperfections afterwards. I also covered the Saran wrap above with the icing to conceal it. I had to do two double batches and was able to match the second batch of icing perfectly. After finishing the cake I had to make an additional double batch of icing to ice the 24 cupcakes I had also made the night before. I kept half the white and half blue. The blue came out the color of Elsa's dress and I topped with silver sprinkles and snowflakes. Perfect for the theme of Frozen.

I had to teach myself how to use the icing tip. I used decorating bags and cut the end off to fit the Wilton icing tip. I also bought couplers, but I didn't have the correct size. The tip I chose was a large tip, open star (Wilton 1M). I also bought decorating bags. At first the icing wasn't sticking to the bottom 8" layer, but I managed to get it on there once I had the technique down.

I'm glad I decided to make two dozen cupcakes because there was only one left after the party. Everyone commented how delicious the cake and cupcakes were and it was definitely the buttercream icing. The cake stayed moist (the freezer actually helps). I used Betty Crocker chocolate for the cakes and cupcakes. Maybe one day soon I will try to make my own cake recipe (now that I know what to expect)! After all the time, effort, stress and anxiety over making the Elsa cake it was still rewarding since it came out so well and I really enjoyed it. I love party planning and I love doing things to see the smiles on my daughters faces. Ellie lit up when she saw her Elsa cake and was so excited. I know I will be making another princess cake in the future!

 I think Ellie is thinking about eating the cake!
// Back view of cake //
 And, here is Summer ready to blow out her candle!

The Inside:
I'm still thinking about this cake and how delicious it was!

I also want to note the pink cake stand I used. I bought it from Design Darling (also mentioned here) and knew that I would get a lot of use out of it having two girls. 

Also, a huge thank you to my friend for all the encouragement along the way and to Glory at Glorious Treats. The buttercream icing was amazing and the step by step instructions were so helpful. Not to mention, her cupcake pictures are gorgeous!

One more look! 

** This is not a sponsored post. I just loved these products and wanted to share! Affiliate links are included in this post.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Ellie Turns 4 + Summer Turns 2: Frozen Birthday Party!

We celebrated the girls birthdays on Sunday. Ellie turned 4 on April 12th and Summer will be 2 on May 5th. We decided to have a joint party while they are still young and can do it! Initially Ellie told me she wanted a Snow White party, but a few weeks ago she changed it to a Frozen party. That worked for me since there are a lot more options and decorations for Frozen right now since it is so popular. 

I ordered a few decorations and a game from Amazon, bought pink sparkle silverware and a pinata from Target, and used the balloon wreath on the front door I made last year. The big surprise was the Princess Elsa cake I made. It was such an ordeal and came out great that I am writing its own separate post! This year I wanted to focus less on the theme and more on the food and dessert. I thought about making a tissue tassel garland, but I didn't have the time so I skipped it this year. My husband will help out with errands, but it was really just me doing the party planning, shopping, menu, cooking and baking, and setting up. It is a lot of work, but I love it. And, my husband was very appreciative of all that I did for the girls party. 

Here are some party photos!
Ellie wearing outfit number 1. She loved the cape on this dress and felt like a true princess. She changed into 3 different outfits during the course of the party. She was Ariel for a while, then changed into another Elsa dress for cake.

I included this photo of Ellie and her cousin, Maeve, meeting Elsa and Anna at the Shore last summer on vacation. We also had Honest juices and water on ice outside. Beer, too. I was so busy I forgot to put out the wine I had chilled in the fridge!
 This was such a cute game that the kids loved! It included 8 sticker noses and a blindfold.
 Snowman Making Station
This was a cute idea I found on Pinterest (most were used as favors). The girls made one after the party, but all the kids were so busy playing that they didn't make one. I liked the idea though!
On the menu:
Sandwiches (ordered)
Pasta Veggie Salad (made by my Mom)
Pretzel Bites (a kid favorite)
Avocado, Tomato, Feta Dip
Homemade cupcakes
Princess Cake
The Crockpot Spinach Artichoke Dip was amazing! I had pinned it a while back and finally had a chance to make it. It was such a hit and I highly recommend it. There was minimal prep time and it cooked for about 2 hours. I served it with fresh French bread and tortilla chips.

I chose the pull string so Summer and the little kids could participate this year. I filled it with candy, lollipops, bubbles and fruit snacks.

The weather was perfect and we had such a fun afternoon with our families celebrating these two little girls!

Here is a photo of the cake I made. Details coming tomorrow!

Take a look back!

** Affiliate links are included in this post.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Easter Weekend + Easter Crafts

I'm a week late with my Easter recap and I had started writing it, but never finished. I still wanted to post it. It's a long post, too, with lots of pictures!

The girls and I have been doing Easter crafts for the past few weeks and decorated the house. My favorite decoration this year was this Easter centerpiece. Thanks to Pinterest for the super creative idea! We also did a few other crafts (below).
Jelly Beans / Easter Grass / Peeps / Tulips
 Washi Tape Egg
 Painting Eggs
 Dyeing Eggs

A couple weekends ago Ellie's school had an Easter event. It was very well planned and organized. There were crafts, decorating cookies, games and egg hunts according to ages. Both Summer and Ellie participated and loved it! 

Saturday we went to another one at the playground we frequent. The girls had a blast and saw the Easter bunny. Ellie loves him and happily smiles for a picture. Summer, again, wanted nothing to do with him up close, but this time she reached in her basket for pieces of candy and tossed it to the bunny. It was so funny. It was nice of her to share, and such a funny idea.

Saturday night my parents hosted Easter dinner since we were all unable to be together on Sunday. My parents just returned from a week long vacation in England so it was great seeing them (we missed them!) and hearing about their trip. My parents always make the best homemade dinners. Afterwards my brother hid about 100 eggs in their backyard. The cousins had so much fun looking for them, then eating some of the candy. 
Love their matching dresses!
 Summer couldn't wait to eat that chocolate!

The Easter Bunny stopped at our house Saturday night. Ellie told us he would be here "when it's very, very dark out and the owls are out." He filled the girls baskets and left a new pink fridge for the girls kitchen. He taped on a pink bow with bunny ears. He also hid 22 eggs (10 for each filled with chocolate plus 2 gold eggs filled with money).

The girls were so excited and all smiles this morning! After they sorted through their baskets and found the eggs we made bunny pancakes. I saw this idea on Instagram and we made pancakes as we usually do and I cut them to make the bunny.
Tablecloth & paper cups via Target

Ellie, unfortunately, wasn't feeling well. She had a fever last night, then threw up once (but not again). She skipped breakfast, took a long nap and felt much better by dinner time. We still made it to my in laws for dinner. While Nick and Ellie napped Summer and I made these adorable chocolate peeps, wrapped them in a bag with a cute bow, and used these free printables. We dropped them off to our neighbors in the evening. It was a nice way to end our Easter weekend.

I made this side dish and it was very popular.
Asparagus Bundles
 I omitted the puff pastry to keep it a lighter dish. I also used Prosciutto instead of Pancetta. It will definitely be a dish I make again. It was delicious and so easy!

I love how Ellie always has her arm around her little sister. Summer is just too cute for words. I love these girls! It was such a fun, memorable weekend!

Easter, 2015