Evan’s First Birthday Party

First birthdays are HUGE here in Hawaii. I’m talking hundreds of people, a full on catered affair with entertainment, activities, and the whole nine yards. I wish I could say that we wholeheartedly embraced that tradition while celebrating Evan turning one, but our budget was teeny tiny. Instead, we decided to have a casual, laid-back, fun afternoon at the beach with our friends. It was perfect! Evan loved his party and had such a fun time playing in the ocean with all his friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was amazing, Evan was so excited to play in the sand, and he really enjoyed his smash cake–although he preferred to just rub the frosting into his legs rather than actually smash and eat the cake. Silly boy.

Oh, and everything was monkeys. Evan has always loved monkeys! I decided on a blue, green, and yellow color scheme, and then kept it super simple. Except the cake. I went all out on making the cake. To be honest I was a little disappointed at how it turned out (my ganache layer under the fondant was so lumpy!) but everyone still loved it and it was delicious. My friend Tami made the tassel garland for me (thank you again Tami it was amazing!!!) and her husband Darren helped Brinton shop for all the food and set everything up at the beach. We have great friends. They helped me keep everything together and running smoothly. Anyway, here are pictures!

Evan 1st Bday 001 Evan 1st Bday 003Tassels Evan 1st Bday 007Evan 1st Bday 005 Evan 1st Bday 006 Evan 1st Bday 013Birthday Collage 1Birthday Collage 2Birthday Collage 3Evan 1st Bday 014Evan 1st Bday 019Evan 1st Bday 021Evan 1st Bday 022Birthday Collage 4Evan 1st Bday 023Evan 1st Bday 024Evan 1st Bday 025Evan 1st Bday 026

One year old, monkey man! Happy Birthday!

One Year

It still blows my mind that my sweet baby boy is already one year old. I feel like it was just yesterday that he was a squishy little newborn and would cuddle up on my chest. I miss his milk-coma face! This year has flown by so quickly. Evan has become a whole little person with a big personality. I know it probably seems silly to say this, but I came to the realization a few weeks ago that my baby boy will only ever get bigger. Soon he will be walking and talking, and then he will be making friends and learning how to interact with others, going to school and learning, playing sports or doing theatre…and suddenly graduating and going off to live his life. I just know that if I blink too quickly it will all go by in a flash. He is still a baby of course, for now, but he is quickly becoming a toddler and every day I’m reminded that I am raising an independent and wonderful individual.

Now for some not so sappy stuff: Evan is so close to walking, but is still a bit too apprehensive to give it a go on his own. I can tell it wont be long though! He is already talking up a storm and as of his first birthday could already say six words including mama, dada, ball, quack, bye, and bird (although bird doesn’t really sound like bird yet…) and he has his own special names for a few other things. He has eight teeth, still almost no hair, and if he keeps growing at this rate he will be taller than I am by the time he’s eight. He absolutely loves to throw balls and read books, and bath time might just be his favorite time of day. He specializes in extremely wet kisses, crawling at the speed of light, and pulling every single book off of the bookshelf in less than a minute about twenty times a day. Sometimes he will just sit and giggle to himself, and though it makes me nervous to suddenly hear silence in the other room, nine times out of ten I walk into the room to see him reading. He thinks all cups are microphones and loves talking into them, and recently during meals has really enjoyed pretending to feed me and then eating it himself instead. He is a happy, silly, brilliant, and energetic little boy. I love him so much and I am so proud of him! I am in awe of him each and every day. Happy one year Evan Jay. You are my everything.

One Year Header 1One Year Header 2One Year 8One Year 11One Year Collage 1One Year Collage 2One Year Collage 3PS- This “one” onesie was a super easy DIY. I’ll be sure to post the details for you! When I do, I’ll link it here.

 

And we’re back in 3…2…1…

Oh hello there!

As you can probably tell I decided to take a little break from the blog here. I fell behind on taking Evan’s one year photos, got busy with planning and throwing his birthday party, and then preparing for company coming to visit. Pair that with Brinton starting school while working full time, me still working part time and starting to babysit part time as well, and all the other day to day craziness, and I decided the blog would have to wait a while. Now that I finally feel like I have my head on straight again, I’m back! I still have company in town for the next week and a half so please continue to bear with me if my posts are still a little sporadic, but I appreciate you all still sticking around while I’ve been gone.

I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but sometimes with blogging, I wonder if anyone even bothers to read what I’m writing. When I haven’t been blogging for a few weeks sometimes I feel like not even starting it back up at all. But a few of you have left comments over the last week or so that have helped me realize that even though my blog is tiny and still just starting out, something I have written has helped you in some small way. Reading that makes my heart happy, and makes all the difference to me.

I think it’s easy to get caught up in comparisons. “Her blog has this many comments on every post!” or “So-and-so has this many thousand followers on Instagram!” It’s easy to feel small and insignificant. But that’s not what I want my blog to be about. Would it be fantastic to have hundreds of thousands of followers across all of my social media accounts? Sure! Perhaps it would. I don’t know…maybe it wouldn’t! More than anything though, I want my blog to be a place where people can share their experiences and learn and grow with one another. I want to find a love for the blogging community, and you, my friends, have helped me to feel like I have a small little family forming here. So, thank you!

Kind Words Graphic

Now, I promise I will get Evan’s one year post and his birthday post up this week (yes, mom…I know you’ve been dying to see all the pictures…) and I’ll get back to positing some yummy recipes too. Lucky for you all I’m busy playing tourist while Brinton’s grandparents are in town, so by the end of the month I’m planning a “fun things to do in Hawaii for almost free” post. I have lots of ideas for where I want this blog to go, and I’m going to use September as kind of a transition time as I get there.

PS- That graphic above is a little doodle I created tonight. I’m still messing around with how to make it a free printable for you all. As soon as I do, I’ll link it below! In the meantime, feel free to pin it and spread some happiness!

See you all again soon, promise!

High Five for Friday

It has been a few weeks since I’ve done a high five for Friday post, so even though it’s pretty late in the day, I didn’t want to miss out on doing one this week! I’m racing the clock to see if I can finish this post before my timer tells me that dinner is ready…so as per usual, let’s jump right in!

1. Today my guest post for Elizabeth who blogs at Elizabeth Loves went live. I wrote all about how to make an amazingly delicious and creamy pasta Alfredo, so be sure to head over to her blog, show her some love, and check out my post!

Pasta Alfredo Header

2. My baby boy turns one on Tuesday. It’s blowing my mind. I can’t believe how much he has grown and changed in the last year. But I won’t get all emotional mom on you right now…that’s for his one year post. Haha.

3. My husband, who works at Microsoft, got a free phone from work which means I am inheriting his phone. It’s a Windows phone, and I’m excited for something new and different (and with a much better camera than I have now!), but any kind of technology change always makes me really anxious. I don’t know why, but I am really resistant to technology change. I hope I like it!

4. Recently Evan has been strongly asserting his independence at meal times and pretty much insisting he feed himself everything. The other day I decided to give him a spoon and let him go at it with a small bowl of prunes…and it was hilarious. He had a blast! Sometimes the mess is totally worth the fun. In case you don’t yet follow me on Instagram, here were the results of his first time using a spoon:

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5. I have a fun new DIY craft idea that I am really excited to try! We have almost no wall art in our apartment, and I feel like it’s about time we start making more of an effort to make our apartment feel like home instead of a temporary place. I’m still hoping we get to move into a new place when our lease is up next month, but man oh man–apartment hunting in Hawaii is the worst. Fingers crossed we find a place!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t beat the dinner timer. Ha! But that’s okay. Dinner was delicious and I still finished my post, so everything I wanted to finish is still getting checked off my list.

Linking up with Lauren ElizabethFriday FavoritesConfessional Friday, Friday Blog Hop, and Oh Hey Friday!

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

I wish we lived in an age where computers had smell-o-vision. Think about it…wouldn’t that be fantastic? If you need some convincing, let me help:

Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff Header

Yum, right? Don’t you wish you could smell it? Well, you can! You just have to make it yourself. No worries though–it’s a simple recipe and takes less than 30 minutes. You all should know by now that those are my favorite recipes!

Recently I’ve been trying to find more vegetarian dishes to cook because sometimes I feel like our family eats far too much meat. I stumbled across this stroganoff variation, and since I am a sucker for anything portobello mushroom I knew I had to give it a try! I adapted the recipe quite a bit (okay…a lot), but if you want to view the original recipe you can do so here.

Mushrooms close up

Ahhh they look so yummy. Okay, okay…I’ll stop teasing you. Here’s the recipe:

What You Need:
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon (2-3 cloves) garlic
1 medium sized onion
2 portobello mushroom caps, diced
4 medium sized crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped (optional, but delicious)
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups reduced sodium broth (veggie, beef, or chicken works fine)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley, as a garnish
8 oz egg noodles (pasta, rice, or even quinoa would be a nice variation as well)

The How To:
1. Over medium-high heat, melt the butter and saute the garlic and onions until the garlic is browned and the onions are somewhat translucent.

Onions and garlic

2. Add the portobello and the crimini mushrooms to the pan, and cook until they are browned.

Adding mushrooms
3. Make a small well in the middle of the mushrooms, and add the flour. Let it cook for just a moment, and then stir it into the mushroom mixture. Salt and pepper the mushrooms to taste. Remember, don’t go overboard on the salt! You will still be adding broth and soy sauce. You can even omit the salt completely in this step if you so choose.

4. Pour in the broth of your choice. If you are trying to be strictly vegetarian, veggie broth works fine. I only had beef broth on hand, and it created a wonderful flavor. Use whatever you prefer!

Adding broth
5. Stir well, making sure the flour has completely incorporated into the broth and that there are no lumps. Add the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce, stir, and barely bring to a boil. Allow it to cook like this for a minute or two so that the broth reduces a bit and the flour begins to thicken it slightly.

6. Add in the sour cream and mix to ensure it is completely blended. Lower the heat and continue to cook until the sauce thickens to your liking.

Adding sour cream
7. As your sauce sits on low or warm, stir it occasionally. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your egg noodles according to the directions on the package. Do not over cook the noodles! Al dente pasta just tastes better.

8. Serve the noodles with the sauce on top, and garnish with parsley if you so choose.

Here, taste the sauce. Isn’t it delicious?!

Mushrooms on spoon

The fresh herbs at my supermarket didn’t look particularly inviting, so I decided to omit the parsley, but oh man it would be delicious with it as a garnish. It’s so yummy either way, though!

Finished mealI hope you enjoy this as much as I did! Haha we have made this two times since Saturday already. That’s how good it is!

Linking up with Delicious Dish TuesdayTuesday’s Table, and Hot Momma’s Kitchen!

 

Weekending…All Week Long!

Two weeks ago my sister came to visit. We had such a great time! I took the week off of blogging when she was here (with the exception of a yummy Mongolian Tofu dish I shared) so that we could explore O’ahu and spend as much time together as possible. Even the threat of a hurricane or two didn’t kill our party!

After she left I decided to take one more week away from the blog to enjoy one of the last weeks of summer before Brinton starts school again and our schedules become insane! So, I apologize for being absent…but I’m not actually sorry. Ha! It’s always nice to take a vacation from technology, especially when it means enjoying a beautiful island and spending time with family. I’ve had a great last two weeks, and I hope you have too!

Enjoy some of our pictures, and I’ll see you this week as I dive back into my normal routine!

(P.S. I know my sister is about ten shades darker than I am…but I promise we really are related!)

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Linking up for the first time today with two new blogs I stumbled upon– B Loved Boston and Champagne and Suburbs!

No Bake Cheesecake

No bake desserts are some of my favorites to make–and eat! Here in Hawaii in the summer my apartment is usually outrageously hot, so anything I can make that doesn’t require me to turn on the oven is a winner in my book. Plus, this comes together fairly quickly (if you don’t count the chill time) and is perfect for group get-togethers. A few weeks ago we had a special dinner event for our young women at church, so I doubled the recipe and made 18 mini cheesecakes and one large regular sized cheesecake. It was a hit!

No bake cheesecake header

This cheesecake is creamy, dreamy, and delicious. Trust me, you’ll be in love from the first bite!

Mini cheesecake side closeup

Seriously…it looks dreamy, doesn’t it? Mmm…

When I was looking for a recipe, I ended up scouring Pinterest and asking some friends for recipes they had. I ended up combining a few different recipes based on the ingredients I had on hand, and came up with this! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

What You Need:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups fresh whipped cream*
18 mini graham cracker crusts, or 1 regular graham cracker crust

*See notes at bottom of post

The How To:
1. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, and then gradually add in the sugar. Beat until well blended.
2. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla.
3. Gently fold in the whipped cream. It is important to fold it in–do not mix it in! If you mix it in it will lose all of its fluffy goodness, and that would be a sad, sad day.
4. Once everything is incorporated, pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust. If using mini crusts, spoon a few tablespoons of the mixture into each crust. I find spooning it into the minis to be much easier than pouring.
5. Refrigerate for 4+ hours or chill in the freezer for about 2 hours.

Once it has set, you can serve with your favorite fruit topping**! Enjoy!

Mini cheesecake closeup 2

Notes:
* To make fresh whipped cream, you’ll need 1.5 cups of heavy whipping cream and 3 tablespoons of sugar. You can use granulated or powdered sugar, but I usually use powdered because I find it to be smoother and easier to blend. Beat the heavy cream using an electric stand or hand mixer until it begins to look slightly thickened, and then add the powdered sugar one tablespoon at a time. Beat just until stiff peaks form.
** To make fruit topping, follow the instructions for this fruit filling. Feel free to use whatever fruit/berries you prefer.

Linking up with Delicious Dish Tuesday and Tuesday’s Table!