Reflections on a Year

Yesterday was my birthday and I’ve been thinking about what 37 gave me and what I am hoping for 38.

37 was a year of many highs and many lows.

The year in running:

I went to Disney and did the Princess Challenge Weekend! But, I also had a big fall before a 10K last summer and ended up with 9 stitches on my face – 6 in my eyebrow and 3 on my nose. I reached big goals but also got sidelined by stitches (and a huge case of road rash on my knee) over the summer and got sidelined again by plantar fasciitis after the Princess Challenge Weekend.

The year in doing good:

I completed my fourth year as captain for Team Pudgie Pies and Pineapple Shirts as we Walk to End Alzheimer’s. But, we also lost Grandma this year and she was the reason that we were walking in the first place.

The year in learning:

37 was when I completed my Master’s Degree. There’s really no downside. Completing this degree while working full time and having two kids at home who were 5 and under was difficult to say the least. Addy was born during one of my first semesters and I had to let a professor know that I would be late turning in some papers because I would be in the hospital having a baby. Finishing that degree was a huge step for me, but also for my family. Addy had never known a Mommy who didn’t have to stay up late to do homework.


I have big plans for 38. I am hoping to get my pace down so that I can do other half-marathons but perhaps not start in the very last corral. Hopefully, the weather will become warmer soon because I’m pretty sure that I’m burned out when it comes to running on the treadmill.

Team Pudgie Pies and Pineapple Shirts is back again for this year Walk and I am determined that our team will fundraise more than we ever have before. If you would like to make a donation to our fundraising you can go here for my page or you can donate here to donate to our team.

When it comes to academia, I am not entirely certain where 38 will bring me. I have pondered going back to school again and working toward my Doctoral Degree. Will that happen in 38? Not sure. However, I am pondering applying to present at a conference. It’s something that I haven’t done before and I need to really reflect on what I would present on, but it’s something that I think that I could do.

Cheers to 38! Here’s hoping that my big goals will come to fruition. 🙂


Moana Birthday

If your household is anything like ours, Moana is a big big big deal. We watch the movie. We have Moana dolls. We listen to the soundtrack in the car. The girls have Moana t-shirts. So, it made sense that baby girl was going to want  Moana themed birthday for her third birthday.

So, baby girl wore her new Moana dress. And big girl wore her new Moana t-shirt.

There aren’t a lot of Moana party accessories so the decor and food was Moana/tropical themed.


It worked out nicely that the Target dollar section recently had a lot of pineapple stuff. (The metal containers and pineapple straws are from the dollar section.)

It was a fun day. And do not worry. Both girls are already planning their next birthday party themes…….

Fairy Fudge – Tinkerbell Birthday

Most times, when I see recipes posted on Facebook or in my email, I’ll look at them for a few seconds and think “Hmm, I should try this one” and then I never look at it again. This was not the case when I saw the recipe for 4-Ingredient Funfetti Fudge. It helped that I was in the process of planning little girl’s birthday party. It also helped that it only took 4 ingredients and it looks super easy to do.

It came together super quickly and it really was delicious. It was a big hit at the party. Be aware: you only need a tiny piece of this fudge because it is really sweet. I originally cut it into what I thought were small pieces but then went back and cut them smaller.

I also added way more sprinkles than the recipe called for. When it says to top with extra spinkles “if you like” well, I apparently liked that a lot because I basically poured most of the remainder of the jar on top. I think that it looked festive and actually gave the fudge a little crunch.



Winnie-the-Pooh First Birthday

I can’t believe how quickly this year went by.  Baby girl is one year old! When beginning to plan her party, I decided to go with one of my favorite topics – Winnie-the-Pooh! I wanted to keep it simple while also making it super cute. But….yea….simple and easy to put together were the goals.


This paper became a huge part of the party design. I found a template for pennants here. I cut out the pennant pieces and used a circle paper punch to cut out lots of circles.

Lots and lots of pennants

Lots and lots of pennants

I used the circles to make a little banner for the cake and as confetti on the table.

Cake banner

Cake banner

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

My mother-in-law noticed that the cake design was close to that of big girl’s birthday. I like that a lot of the design was the same but still different for each girl.

I hung pennants everywhere……until I ran out of pink ribbon.

On the fireplace....

On the fireplace….

On bookshelves....

On bookshelves….

After I ran out of pink ribbon, I had to improvise. (Hint – always buy too much ribbon.) I cut the top tab part off of the pennant pieces so that they were now just a triangle and taped them up as though they were a banner.

On the front door....

On the front door….

On the high chair....

On the high chair….

On the closet door....

On the closet door….

I didn’t want to go overboard with Winnie-the-Pooh so I picked accents of pink and yellow. There was also a lot of pink and yellow in the Pooh paper so it worked out well.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man....I love the Target dollar section.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man….I love the Target dollar section.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

For the menu, we decided to have picnic-type foods. Sliders, brats, hot dogs. All sounds good, right? Except big girl won’t eat any of those things so I also made sure that we had the ingredients for PB&J sandwiches. I used a cute beehive cookie cutter to cut the bread. I’m guessing that the cookies would look better than the bread as the bread just looked like a weird triangle….or a letter A….

PB&J. Everyone's favorite.

PB&J. Everyone’s favorite.

After I settled on the Winnie-the-Pooh theme, I asked my mom to be on the lookout for Pooh bear stuff at yard sales or resale shops.  She found a cute vase/carafe that I added to the table decor. Unfortunately, the pic that I had of the vase refuses to be uploaded…..after four tries…..oh well.  Just know that it’s cute.

The food!

The food!

I think that the party turned out really cute. I did not spend nearly as many hours preparing this one as I did when big girl turned one but I wanted to be well-rested (or as well-rested as a mother of a 3 year-old and 1 year-old can be) for the party. Once I found the scrapbook paper I knew that the whole party would come together pretty easily.

Easy. Cute. Birthday party goals were definitely achieved.


Paper Dot Garland – How-to

I made a garland for baby girl’s birthday party.  It was easy although a bit time-consuming.  It would’ve been great if I had been able to find circle paper punches instead of having to cut out all of the circles.  Oh well.

I found this site that helped me to get started.  They used paper with a sticky backing.  If you can find that, I’m sure that that makes this project amazingly easy to complete.

  1. Cut out circles.  Lots and lots of circles.  This is why it would be great to have a paper punch to help you out.
  2. Fold the circles in half.
  3. Glue two circles together along one side.

    Two circles glued together.

    Two circles glued together.

  4. Repeat and allow to dry completely.
  5. Apply glue to one of the dry pieces and sandwich ribbon between two of the dry pieces.  (You should now have four circles glued together.)

    Let dry completely.

    Let dry completely.

  6. Repeat until you get the finished design that you are hoping for.
  7. Hang your garland!
    I made some with multiple colors to hang from dining room light.

    I made some with multiple colors to hang from dining room light.

    The garland was draped across the window.

    The garland was draped across the window.

Very Hungry Caterpillar – First Birthday Party

So baby girl’s first birthday was a month ago.  I put in a lot of time planning for the party and thought that I would share some of the ideas and how they turned out.
I knew that Very Hungry Caterpillar would be the theme.  Pinterest is full of planning ideas for this birthday theme.  (Not nearly as original of an idea as I had initially thought.)  The easy thing about making this book into a party theme is that your menu is basically planned already.  Everything that the caterpillar eats…well…that’s what you will eat.

Once I knew what the theme was going to be, I started doing research online and kept my eyes open for ideas.  I looked for anything that could be used for the party.  I found the napkins at Target.  I thought that they had an Eric Carle-esque look to them.

Happy Birthday little peanut!

Happy Birthday little peanut!

I was very excited when I found these little containers in the $1 aisle at Target.  (I love the $1 aisles at Target.)

I love a great deal!

I love a great deal!

I took a lot of inspiration from this party.  You will definitely see some similarities in her cake and in the one that I made.  That little banner across the cake is too cute!  I also used the labels that are posted at the end of her blog post.

Happy Cake!  I'll write more about the cake on a future post.

Happy Cake! I’ll write more about the cake on a future post.

One of the labels. We printed off and glued onto cardstock.

One of the labels. We printed them and glued onto cardstock. “On Saturday he ate one slice of salami.”

Another food label.  These were so perfect for the party.  As soon as they were placed, it was very clear what the theme was.

Another food label. These were so perfect for the party. As soon as they were placed, it was very clear what the theme was.

Some of the foods were pretty straight forward.  Some, however, I put my own little spin on.  Instead of making a pie, I made little tiny pies.  You can find a how-to here.  They are just pie dough and pie filling.  Couldn’t be easier.  Instead of eating cupcakes and ice cream cones, Grammie made the cupcakes in ice cream cones.  They were delicious and adorable.  The tops of the cupcakes were decorated with little candy caterpillars like in this post.

Check out the caterpillars on the ice cream cone cupcakes!  So cute!

Check out the caterpillars on the ice cream cone cupcakes! So cute!

I spent a lot of time cutting out circles to make a garland.  I also used some of the circles as large confetti on the table as to decorate the inside of the door.  Now, I am fully aware that stores sell large hole punches so that you do not have to cut out countless circles.  I checked one particular store’s website to see if they carried them.  Then, I called the store to be sure.  When I got to the store, they didn’t have a single one.  So…..I did a lot of cutting.

Circles and Caterpillar on the door.  It's a fuzzy pic but you can get an idea of how it looked.

Circles and Caterpillar on the door. It’s a fuzzy pic but you can get an idea of how it looked.

I’ll be writing a how-to post for the garland.  I think it turned out pretty cute.

Garland hanging across window.

Garland hanging across window.

It was a great party.  It was a day full of laughter, hugs, food, and family.  And baby girl definitely had a good time.

The table is ready for a party!

The table is ready for a party!

What birthday party themes have you seen for first birthdays?

Every Birthday Should Have a Cake

I am one of the few people that I know who always has to have the same cake for her birthday every single year.  If I don’t have that cake, it doesn’t count as a birthday.  I sometimes thought that my mom was at times confused by my choice of cake.  I sometimes think that others are a bit confused as well.  My cake:  angel food cake with cherry pie filling and Cool Whip.  The angel food cake can come from the grocery store or can be baked.  The cherry pie filling should come from a can.  You make cherry pie?  You make your own pie filling?  That’s great!  But don’t put it on my cake.  And to top it all off, Cool Whip.  You like to make fresh whipped cream?  That’s great!  But don’t put that on my cake either.  My infatuation with this dessert began in grade school.  This combination was regularly offered as a dessert option for lunch.  So, I guess my love of store bought birthday dessert can be blamed on my grade school lunches.

I remember there being a great variety in cakes for my family.  Devil’s Food, Mississippi Mud, German Chocolate, Blueberry pie (I know.  Not a cake.).  There were also some incredibly amazing cakes made by my aunt.  I still recall the giant hamburger cake that she made with green gummy drops flattened out until they looked like lettuce.  And, of course, there was the “cat litter” sheet cake with Tootsie Rolls molded to look like…well….what do you expect to find in a box of cat litter?

So, while I am watching Food Network and enjoying yet another piece of my perfect birthday cake I am wondering what your birthday cake is.  Do you always have the same cake?  Is your cake not a cake?  Do you prefer a brownie?  A lemon bar?  Or do you skip the cake and have another piece of pizza?