Tuesday, May 15

Wordless Wednesday: Lost in Thought..

This face scares me... what is he scheming??

Birthday Party Success!

The Barnyard Birthday Party day came & went so fast! And we all had a blast!

In total we had 18 kiddos under 4 (plus all their parents) come to play! Believe it or not, even with all the little ones it wasn’t too stressful and I managed to squeeze in a bit of mingling and lots of photo snappin’.
(I did miss 1 photo that I meant to take.. I really wanted to do a group shot of all the tots…but I totally spaced : / )

The Barnyard Theme was a HIT!
(My E only screamed for 10 minutes when I made him put on these CUTE farmer overalls. I had a plaid shirt as well .. but there was no way he was letting me get that on him too...)

Enjoying 1 of the many cookies of the day..
The Loot bags we made
The table partially set up
The Petting Zoo was AMAZING!
I can’t stop raving about Little Tracks TRAVELLING petting zoo 
Not only did they show up on time and have everything set up before anyone showed up (my kind of peeps!), they provided an educational spin on things for the kids (& adults) when we were in the petting zoo pen.

I really wish I had snapped more pics of the animals, now that I think about it!

Yes – I got in there too (although there are not any pics ..sigh.. isn't that always the way!)
But I did handle a duck, I petted a pig, I rubbed a donkey and I caressed a horse.

E and his buddy watching as they set up the pen
The Cavie & his handler...It's a Rabbit/Kangaroo - weird
Awww! Baby ducks!
This picture just doesn't do justice for this ADORABLE goat! I want one!
When it wasn’t their turn in the petting zoo pen the kids could also play on the slide, go for a pony ride, color a picture at the coloring station or EVEN better… They could jump in the best $40.00 I ever spent – The BOUNCY CASTLE!

Pure joy!

Some of the best parts of the day
  • My rain dance paid off - the weather was absolutely PERFECT – couldn’t have asked for better in May!
  • My lil man & his buddies had a blast! 
  • There was little clean up (as it was ALL outside and we served snack food.. although I wished I had made a few dozen of my chocolate chip cookies, rather than bought.. but, whatcha gonna do?) 
  • It was an AM party (930-1130am) – so everyone was gone by noon! 
  • E had a 3hr nap after the party! whoohoo
  • We collected 40 pairs of shoes for the Little Footprints, Big Steps charity (in lieu of gifts)!!

All Birthday'd out!

Tuesday, May 1

Wordless Wednesday: Cheeky

Ipod & Instagram photo

Everyday Mama’razzi

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say that since I’ve had my lil man I’m totally addicted to my camera!
Photo evidence: 
(SOOC shots)

Hubby and I decided that one of our last SPLURGES before the arrival of E would be a big screen TV for him and a DSLR for me.. (Needless to say I may have splurged a few times since... definitely not as big as Hubby & his Harley Davidson motorcycle.. Don’t get me started….That’s another post for another time…)

For the past 2 yrs I’ve been capturing our every move, pretty much daily on my Canon Rebel Xsi. Most of my pics up until the past couple have months have been in Auto/TV/AV mode – but lately I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and into the M mode! SCaaaarRrryy!

I figured I couldn’t venture into M mode without a lil instruction. (You know me – a lil Type A like that! LOL) So I took a beginner course with a local photographer Kelly Gemmell. Her work is AMAZING! Her course went over the basics: ISO, aperture and exposure.

That course lit my photography fire even more, so for my birthday I treated myself to another course – this time online. I found this course via Layla’s site. If you haven’t heard of The Lettered Cottage (where have you been?) – you must check her out!!! The courses are taught by her hubby Kevin and his buddy Josh over at Shoot Fly Shoot. (I have taken course 101 so far.) They are REAL dudes who keep the course low key and it’s taught in normal person lingo (with small southern accents as a bonus!.) (PS I am not affiliated with them nor do I receive any compensation – I just loved the course) The course is ridiculously reasonably priced as well!!

Here are some recent M (mode) shots since absorbing some new knowledge - whatcha think?

Do you have the photog. itch too? Where did you learn – where has it taken you?

Monday, April 30

Mmmm. cake! {Click it up a Notch}

Our lil man turned 2 in April! OMG! :(
The official Party, with all his lil buddies is this weekend - pics to follow.

This is the cake E's uncle brought him on his actual birthday.. Maybe a little bit for a 2yr old - but he thought it was pretty awesome!

I'm linking up with Click it up a Notch for her April photography contest.
Stop by and link up as well!

Click It Up A Notch

PS this is my VERY 1st photog contest entry ever. Please feel free to leave me comments and/or constructive critism :)


Tuesday, April 24

Wordless Wednesday: 1 Cool Dog

The life of leisure
(ipod photo)

Barnyard Birthday Party

Barnyard Birthday Party planning in full affect! 

He loves animals..even though it may not look like it in this pic

My lil dude is turning 2!! Ahhhh! Like every parent I can’t believe this day has come so fast! (This past year has gone by especially fast since I’ve been back to work :( )

Alright – enough with the sappy stuff, here’s what I’ve got planned! (so far)
PS Let’s keep this on the DL (down low) since the Hubby doesn’t realize I’ve gone all Toddlers & Tiaras meets Party Mamas meets My sweet 16  for this party! Lol

Since our lil man has all the toys he could possibly play with or need (or that we have room for..) we decided to ask our guests to bring running shoes in lieu of a gift. These running shoes will go to an amazing charity (that our friend co-created) in Haiti called Little Footprints, Big Steps. (Their Twitter,  Facebook pages.) The shoes will go to the kids who stay/utilize the safe house.

Birthday Party To Do List:

Invites emailed! CHECK
I decided to save paper and stamp $ and ordered a similar version of these cute custom PDF invites designed by Sassy Alice DesignsThey were great to deal with!
Petting zoo animals arranged! CHECK
Goats, sheep, chicks oh my! We also have a potbelly pig and a padagovian cavie coming.. (Don’t worry – I didn’t know what a padagovian cavie was either, until I googled it.)
Where are we going to put all these animals in our wee lil yard?? Good question!...

There was only one rule

Bouncy castle booked! CHECK
Ok...so I splurged..but it was only $40 extra after I had booked all the other things.. Hubby might be a little surprised that morning when they off load it off the truck..eek

Pony rides ordered! CHECK
In all fairness this is something The Hubby wanted me to book for his recent 30th birthday (I guess he was deprived of a pony party as a kid! Lol) I didn’t think it would have been so appropriate to have a miniature pony at an adult birthday party…

How did you celebrate your 2 yr old's birthday? Did you go over the top as well? Or am I just crazy!?

To Do:
*Plan Barnyard Themed food to serve
*Buy Loot bag/party favors
*Order Balloons

Friday, April 13

Delish! Banana Bread


I’ve been craving banana bread lately.. I’m not really sure why but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with my Hubby constantly telling me he’s sick of seeing the sad looking black & frozen bananas in our freezer everytime he slides the drawer out. So I took to the trusty social media world to find me an A+ recipe to try out.

(The last time I made banana bread it was a little too dry and kind of bland.. I was on the lookout for something that would be as brag worthy as my chocolate chip cookies.)

Of course the wonderful world of web did not disappoint! I found some AMAZINGLY tasty looking recipes!!

Here are some banana bread recipes that I looked at on Punchfork but thought they would be a little over the top for what I was looking to pull off @ 645pm..
(PS If you haven’t discovered Punchfork …do it now!! It’s stellar!)

Drool worthy recipes!:
Banana Stuffed French Toast – Sounds heavenly and makes me feel chubby just looking at it!
Banana Cinnamon Bread – Different..

TOO MANY CHOICES: Banana Bread with berries, nutella, nuts, low fat, high fat, whole wheat, cupcakes, cake, skillet

With all these choices and a toddler who wanted to help before his 7pm bedtime I took inspiration from a Weelicious recipe and made a few modifications of my own:

delish! Banana Bread
Makes 1 9x13 loaf
Time: 1hr 25 min with toddler help (1hr 10 min without toddler help)

½ c softened Butter
¾ c white sugar
2 eggs (brought to room temp)
3 sm bananas (mashed up)
1/3 c milk (I used 1% but I’m sure others % would work just as well.)
2 tsp vanilla (I LOVE vanilla and will probably up this to 2.5 or even 3 tsp in the next batch)
1 tsp almond extract (I like this extract but you could omit if you want)
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 c of mini chocolate chips

Take out your eggs, frozen bananas, and butter to let them all come to room temp (about 1-2 hrs)
Frozen Banana side note ** I like my bananas almost green so as soon as they get brown spots I can’t eat them anymore.. so they go in the freezer for baking. When you are ready to use them for baking, after they have somewhat thawed, break off the top, pinch the bottom of banana and they slide right out like a snake.. perfect for mashing!
Preheat oven to 350F
Grease the bread pan or put in parchment paper

Mix butter and sugar with a stand mixer until it’s light and well blended. (approx. 3-5min)
Add eggs 1 at a time (mix in 1st egg well before adding 2nd egg)
Continue mixing at a low speed
Add in mashed Bananas
Add Milk
Add Vanilla and Almond Extract
Mix all wet ingredients and in a separate bowl start mixing your dry ingredients
Mix together the flour, baking soda & salt
Add in the dry ingredients slowly so you don’t get the flour explosion from the mixer 
Finally add in the chocolate chips YUM!
Mix until JUST blended – don’t beat it to a pulp

Bake for 1hr (I started testing it with a toothpick at about the 50min mark. Once the toothpick comes out clean – she’s ready!)

Your house will smell DELICIOUS right about now!
Let the bread cool for at least 10 min IN THE PAN
Slice and enjoy!

Tips/Notes from me:
  1. Don’t get greedy with the cleaning out the freezer of bananas.. My bananas were a lil on the XL side so 3 was a bit too much banana mush
  2. I’m not sure why I do it but I always seem to start baking project at bad times… 10 minutes before toddler bedtime is not advised
  3. Apparently Banana Mush is very tempting to drop soothers in…I only had to fish it out twice… Toddler germs are all evaporated with the baking right? 

Do you have a Banana Bread recipe you would recommend?

To Do:
*Start freezing more bananas – this recipe rocked!
*Next time I will make a double batch – this was too good not to share with the whole office
*Download Wk 2 of C25K cause after eating ½ the loaf my arse needs to get in motion again

Tuesday, April 3

C25K Day 1

Wow! Is it sad that I can’t run for more than 60s without getting winded? (Don’t answer that…)
Recently I wrote about my loathing for running in my Winter Fluff post.

Winter fluff [win-ter fluhf]
Def. The excess poundage collected around the mid area, rear and thighs while you were busy hibernating over the cold winter months avoiding all conscious physical activity.

I discovered C25K (Couch to 5km) and figured it seemed geared to beginners and new runners – which is me fo’sure!

I downloaded a podcast from this blog (This podcast has upbeatcurrent pop and hip hop songs from 2009-2011! Yes!)

Here are a couple other C25K podcast I came across:

Here’s how Day 1/Wk 1 went:
  • I left later than I wanted to after having to deal with a soother debacle before bedtime so I was well into dusk (kinda sketchy on the trail)
  • I made it to the trail with my running buddy Tito (Our dog) for our 5min walk warm up. I’m feeling good at this point! 
Running buddy in action..
  • Here comes our 1st 60s run” says the podcaster chick….. (Wait a minute… I thought I was following the C25K plan that I had pinned from Michelle Ayala … Apparently not all C25K plans are the same. Newsflash for me!
  • Ok, no prob – I’ll deal, it can’t be that bad I told myself
  • By interval 4 I was hating the podcaster, my nose was running, I was frothing and the dog was annoying the crap out of me
  • I continued on for another 5 or 6 ‘run 60s-walk 90s’ intervals rocking out to Flo-Rida and Kanye.
{Just a side note… I’m using the term RUN very loosely! My runs were just barely jogs except for run 6 where I  RAN and just about died when I realized I had another 3 run/walk intervals to do! LOL}
  •  I have to admit I had to stop 2 of my runs at about 45-50s because I was completely out of gas
  •  My dog was completely confused at the whole run-walk thing. Everytime I picked up speed he thought he could go full speed, so during the entire workout I was yelling, “HEEL!... HEEL!, ok, C’mon!... C’mon!”
  •  I SURVIVED! (and even managed to stop in at my friends place on the way down our street to have a quick chat, a slightly winded chat but I was still alive..)
My tuckered out running buddy
I’m quite proud of myself! I completed a 30 minute workout and could still walk the next day. I’m a lil tender but it serves me right for running without doing any stretching.

To Do
* Get at least 2 more Week 1 runs in within 8 days
* Download Week 2 Podcast

Thursday, March 22

Winter Fluff

Spring is here! Time to dust off those runners, get out of hibernation and stop pigging out on cookies.

Exercise, working out, running, The StairMaster… Does the mention of these give you hives??
Now that I’m in my 30's (yup, I just shed a tear..) I have come to realize this ol’body doesn’t bounce back like it used to. I swear when I was in my early 20’s I could do 20-50 sit ups/day or a class or 2 of Zumba and I would be all tight and toned. NOT ANYMORE…

With the crazy warm weather that we have been experiencing in my neck of the woods it’s hard not to think about shorts & swimsuits and just the thought of those things gives me panic attacks! (Pasty white legs, varicose & spider veins, unpedicured toes.. It’s not pretty people!)

What I wouldn’t do for Carrie Underwood's legs! (& her & her hubby's bank accounts :) )

Or Abs like this chick!
I’ve always dreamed of running in a marathon.. I figure I’d be so proud of myself when I crossed the finish line. It’s one of those things I figured I would have done by 30. (But it never happened.) The fact that I loathe running also affected my career as a marathon runner :)

NOW is the time!!! I must do this!

I’ve noticed that some of my e-friends ( Audrey's Momma and Domesticated-ish ) are getting active and that has given me a little extra motivation.

I took to Pinterest to see how I get started with this running thing.. Maybe I’ve grown out of loathing it??

Here’s what I found and where I’m going to start...I'll keep you posted..

Got any tips on starting running? Feel free to fill me in!

To Do:
*Find my Timex watch buried somewhere in my bathroom (To time my running intervals)
*Find some sort of running outfit that isn't slick tight
*Try to squish my knockers into the only sports bra I own..It is 15 yrs old..

Tuesday, March 13

Joys? of Toddlerhood

Why don’t ‘experienced’ parents ever tell the 'newbies' about the “joys(heavy on the sarcasm here..) of toddlerhood?

I read the What To Expect book, I excitedly discussed my growing bump with friends, we chatted about our cute & charming newborns,we gushed about our lovable, adorable & pudgy lil infants…but that’s where the convos ended. Maybe it’s because I’m back at work and barely have time to score a hot date with the Hubby or do any baking (my favorite relaxing hobby), let alone have adult time with other parents to discuss/compare/commiserate our lil monsters...

Now that I'm moving out of the newbie phase I have compiled some info that I've learned and would like to share with all the preggers and parenting newbies out there. 

(and keep in mind, I have not even successfully made it to E's 2nd bday yet.....)

1. They will have 200+ colds within the 1st year at Daycare
I was pretty much beside myself the 1st few months back at work.. I knew “E” would get sick, pick up gross germs and random bugs from his daycare buddies..BUT SERIOUSLY – sick every 2 weeks! Gah! A-n-n-o-y-i-n-g! I’m pretty sure my boss/work thought I was making up the illnesses just to stay home from work 
 2. They will manage to give themselves pink eye (numerous times) by rubbing their own snot in their eye (during the night.)

A face only a mother could love

3. They will hit and bite
I was clearly delusional in thinking that since we don’t discipline by spanking or biting (obviously!) – my kid wouldn’t do these awful things either - WRONG!
4.  They will not share
Share!? Ok..when you were pregnant did you ever think stop to think about how you were going to teach your kid to share?? I know, right? I totally didn't! Any tips would be helpful
 5. They will learn "NO", "DON'T" and "MINE" way before "YES" and "PLEASE"
I’m pretty sure NO was “E’s” 3rd or 4th word, he's now perfecting MINE and this month’s new word is DON’T.. We are on a roll!
6. They will not care if they sit in their own poop, even if you offer to change it
"E" is 23mths and has developed a lovely new habit we call “closet pooper”
7. They will put up a fight every time they get their diaper changed
Apparently I’m the lucky winner of this battle. He does not do this for anyone else. Lucky me!
8.  They will learn to give you the stink eye and roll their eyes before they are 2!
Mid Eye Roll
Classic Stink Eye
9. Will say mom, mum, MOMMA, moooooom more than you think is possible - in a 5 minute span
Enough said
 10. Will develop a complete hatred for food that he absolutely loved yesterday

* Get cold meds & Kleenex..Another cold has hit our house...
* Read up on tips on how to get your kid to eat more than just PB&J
* Pick up some wine - it's going to be a long year..

Love my lil man but I strongly believe toddlers should come with warnings!

What would you share with parent newbies about toddlers?

    Thursday, March 1

    Kid Art Hoarding

    I’ve got a confession…My name is Ashley (crowd shouts in unison “Hi Ashley”)
    My reply: I’m a kid art hoarder.

    Well in all fairness, I’ve inherited them back from my mom’s crawlspace where they’ve lived for over 20yrs. I’ve already pitched a ton of it but I just can’t bring myself to toss out the last folder of junk art that’s about 20+ years ago. WHY!?, why can’t I do it!!?

    I can just see it now…20 years from now, I will be buried under E’s collection of art.. 

     Don't get me wrong, I love that our lil man does a themed art project EVERYDAY at daycare but C’MON Teacher! Where am I going to store all of the little cutouts, overpainted, scribbled, ripped and random but cute projects in our tiny little house? (“The Mommy guilt” kicks in everytime I try to pitch’em..)

    E's Recent Art
    Dragon Mask for Chinese New Year/Puffy Paint and sparkles
    Learning about China/Fingerpaint
    Windmill painted with Marbles
    I found the perfect solution! I will display them for a week,
    Then I’ll add the artwork to a DIGITAL ART BOOK where they can live clutter free forever & ever!
    (Photo source: A Little of This-A little of That

    I’ve been documenting E’s first 22mths in a digital photo album made on Blurb @Blurbbooks
    I heart Blurb! It’s free to download & create books, the pricing is decent, shipping is pretty fast and the quality of the books are AMAZING!! (PS this is not a sponsored post - just pure, honest love!)

    Check out a sampling of his ‘1st year’ book here (professional photos are done by the lovely, talented Jacqueline Clement/Method Photography)

    To Do’s
    *Photograph E’s recent Art
    *Start a new Blurb Book for his mounting kiddo artwork pile
    *Display ‘said’ art
    *Pitch last week’s art – With NO Mommy guilt!