Monday, January 26, 2015

Progressive Dinner

Last month, we had our annual progressive dinner in our neighborhood.  When we tried this for the first time a couple of years ago, I was so excited.  It really is the best idea ever!  1) You get a fantastic meal 2) You get to see other people's houses (and who doesn't love that?  Am I right?!)  3) It is an easier way to host because you do not have provide all the courses.

This year, our house got house #1 / drinks course again.  This is THE best course to get!  I love finding new drinks each year and getting creative with it.

This year we served beer, wine, a "Christmas Cocktail," and Bourbon Cider.  You HAVE to try this Christmas cocktail (recipe here).  It is a mixture of pomegranate seeds & juice, raspberry sorbet, and champagne.  It was a big hit!

The bourbon cider was a brilliant idea from Whitney's party and also a big hit.  I used this recipe.

I HIGHLY suggest throwing a progressive dinner party if you have other houses close by willing to participate.  Warning: you will end the night feeling stuffed beyond imaginable!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Update & Christmas Recap

Hello there!  Happy 2015!!  Life has been crazy town for the past month and I have had no time to spare.  I got a new job (yay) and spent my last day at the job I've been at for almost 4 years.  I was so ready to say goodbye but also very sad at the same time.  So, I started a new job in December, we celebrated Christmas, Derek and I took a road trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, and lastly, our Nanny gave notice that she is leaving us and thus, we have been searching around for new childcare.  Whew, I'm exhausted just thinking about all of this!  And on top of everything, I'm traveling for the first time with my new work group and woke up this morning with a rash all over my neck and face (Awesome!).  Life is sure exciting right now :)

So, to back up to Christmas, we had a great one!  We traveled for the two days that Derek had off of work and I have to say, it went really well.  Charlie was a great traveler!  We were a little worried because we have never had her fall asleep for the night in her car seat and then try to move her to her bed...we didn't know what we were in for.  She surprised the heck out of us and went right to sleep both nights we did this.  We could have not been more proud of that little girl.  Now, on to some pictures...

We started Christmas Eve day with a trip to Derek's parents house.  Charlie was on the move the whole time we were there with her new presents.  She really had no interest (whatsoever) in unwrapping...I guess we will have to wait for that excitement next year.

Her favorite toy was the little car she received from her grandparents.  She loves getting in and closing the door, opening the door and getting out, etc. etc. etc.

Next up, we attended Derek's dad's family Christmas that evening.  We were really excited to go as it has been a number of years since we could make it to this Christmas.  We always have such a good time with this large family.

The number one important thing to us this year was to be home Christmas morning.  We really want to make it a tradition to have Charlie wake up at her own house Christmas morning and see what Santa brought her.  This year it was a kitchen.  She "washed" and "baked" all morning in this thing.

Also, love our new tradition of having Christmas PJs on and cooking a big breakfast together!

Christmas afternoon and evening was spent at my Mom's house.  Charlie had a great time here playing with Josie and eating a really large Christmas meal!

Thankfully, my mom took a family photo of us.  Again, we need to get back in the swing of taking more pictures!!

Overall, we were thankful to see so much family in the short two days Derek had off of work.  Hope everybody had a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weekend Recap

We had a lovely weekend and sadly I did not take any pictures (am borrowing for this post!).  Seriously, I need to get back on track with the documentation.  And not just using my iPhone.  I need to start using my camera again.  Maybe a new year's resolution?!

Friday night it was Lady's Night in the neighborhood.  We went to Cooper's Hawk and ended up at a local bar afterwards.  We had such a fun fun FUN night just chatting.  Loved every second of our conversations and haven't laughed that hard for a while (thanks Brittany). 

Saturday was a busy one.  I went over to Anne's house for a little cookie decoration party.  Loved everything about this ladies' get together.  I have no experience with cookie decorating so I had a blast.  My cookies did not turn out that pretty but it was fun to have some more girl time and have a few cookies to eat!

Thanks for the pictures Sarah and Anne!

That evening Derek and I went over to Miss Whitney and Kevin's house for a fabulous Ugly Sweater Party.  Would you believe me if I said that we knew nobody (except the hosts of course) and still had the most fun time and felt like we had known this group of people forever?!  It was a night filled with great food, fabulous(!!!) decor, competitive games of boys v. girls, white elephant gift exchange, and fun people.  Perfect holiday party if I say so myself.

Sunday, as you can imagine, was spent relaxing after a busy Friday and Saturday!  Derek and I finished putting up our outside lights.  This was a big deal because we have never done outside lights before.  However, considering we were the only house without lights...we had to get to it this year!  We need to do a little updating to the two trees, aka more lights, aka the ones that Derek did, aka he's going to kill me for calling him and out and suggesting more work, but I have to say I'm extremely happy with it!

Hope you had a great weekend! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

12 Month Photos

We had the wonderful Jax take Charlotte's 12 month photos.  We met her at the Cincinnati Nature Center on a beautiful fall day.  Unfortunately, after we got there, Derek realized he forgot to put an essential bag in the car and had to run home and get it.  Thus, there are a lot of photos of just Charlie and I!  And by the time he got back, Charlie was a little done with pictures.  But Jax is wonderful and still managed to capture some great family photos.

We brought a smash cake for Charlie and she did not disappoint.  She dug right in and got messy.  This was so much fun to watch!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Minestrone Soup & Cornbread Recipe

I have two delicious recipes for you today.  The soup will be added to my winter soup rotation.  It is probably the best minestrone soup I've ever had.  I love all the veggies in it and couldn't get enough!  The cornbread recipe is super easy and turned out delicious.  Both of the recipes can be found from here.

7 Vegetable Minestrone Soup (via crockpot)


1 medium yellow onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped 
1 - 15.25 oz. can whole kernel sweet white corn, drained
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1 - 15.5 oz. can Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
1 - 6 oz. bag of fresh baby spinach
Salt & Pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan Cheese for topping

1. Saute vegetables over medium-high heat with some oil until tender
2. Salt and pepper veggies
3. Put veggies and the rest of ingredients in a crock pot (except pasta, spinach, and cheese)
4. Cook on low for 4-6 hours
5. 20 minutes before you are ready to eat, put pasta in the crock pot to cook
6. When ready, turn off crock pot and put in the spinach and salt & pepper
7. Pour into bowl and top with shredded parmesan cheese

The Best Cornbread | Cooking Classy


2 packages Jiffy cornbread mix
3 eggs beaten
1 8 oz sour cream
1 stick of butter
1 14 oz can creamed corn
1. Melt butter in 9x12 dish at 350 degrees
2. Mix other ingredients and pour in pan
3. Bake 30-40 minutes 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

celebrating a FIRST birthday

On November 2nd we celebrated Charlotte's first birthday.  It was so nice to have her party on her birthday.  Luckily, Derek got off of work and we were surrounded by friends and family to help birthday-girl party!

As all moms know, planning around nap times is essential in order to avoid melt downs during the party.  We thought a 3:30 party would be great with Charlie's schedule.  However, I was at a loss of what to do with the food.  After doing some searching on Pinterest, I came across a "popcorn bar."  I thought it would be perfect!

I was going to do a general fall theme but then the idea of a "Charlotte's Web" party sounded too perfect.  I had to do it before she was old enough to tell me that it was too cheesy ;)  I worked with Courtney to help come up with the invitation.  I sent her some inspiration which is essentially a rustic theme with a touch of Charlotte's Web.  Well, she blew me away her ideas!  I also had her design the popcorn bar signs and details.  Highly, highly, highly (!) recommend her.

Anyway, let's get to some pictures!

The favors were a used copy of Charlotte's Web.  The detail on the outside can be used as a bookmark.

These are the seasonings for the popcorn bar.

The chalkboard sign I created for our chalkboard...took me forever!  However, I have a template so let me know if anybody needs one :)

I did a collage of her smash cake photos done by the talented Jax

Popcorn Bar

Thanks to Anne for suggesting a cookbook for vegan cupcakes...they were so delicious and a huge hit at the party!

Mix-ins for the popcorn

This was Charlie's "look" all day, ha!  She was quite overwhelmed by all the people.

Charlie hanging out with all the guests including one her size...little Hendrik 

I could not stop smiling after the was just so wonderful to have so many friends and family at our house celebrating our daughter's first birthday.  It's one thing when you have people supporting you, but it is completely another when they are there for your child.  We loved every second and could not thank everybody enough.

As far as our little girl, she's grown up so fast.  Remember this tiny thing?

We are so thankful that she is our daughter and couldn't have asked for anything more.  Happy birthday sweet girl :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vegas Recap!

Finally getting to our Vegas recap.  Derek and I gave ourselves a nice just-us-vacation a couple of weeks ago.  We traveled a ton before Charlotte, and one of our promises to each other was to keep traveling (with and without Charlie-girl) after having children.  We thought Vegas would be a great quick trip because we hadn't been in a couple of years.  Even though we got 0! rest while we were there, we had such a great time.  We didn't stop for 4 days...but sadly I forgot a camera (I know!).  iPhone pictures will have to do for this recap.

Upgrade- It was nice to arrive at the Bellagio hotel and receive an upgrade.  We loved our view of the fountains.  I have to say, this was our favorite hotel to stay at in Vegas.  Perfect location

Giada- We decided to try out Giada's new restaurant at the also new boutique hotel in Vegas, The Cromwell.  Our thought was the food was great but over priced.  It was fine dining pricing for non fine dining food.

Beer Pong- We went to O'Sheas on the daily to play beer pong.  The best place ever to play in Vegas.  We absolutely love it here.  It is a hidden gem in Vegas and has great prices on drinks.  I cannot forget to add that I was amazing all week and beat Derek every time.

CraftSteak- We are obsessed with Top Chef and couldn't wait to try Tom Colicchio's restaurant.  We had great service, great food, and great wine pairings.  Overall, a great steakhouse.  However, there was nothing that made it any better than the local steakhouses.  I don't think we would ever go back, but it was a good experience.

Oyster Bar- We enjoyed fresh oysters at an oyster bar.  I got mine served up with pico on top and I have to say they were absolutely delicious.

Bathroom Selfie- This was the only selfie taken the entire trip.  We left here to go see Mystere...which I LOVED!

Ka- Speaking of Cirque du Soleil, we also saw Ka.  I think this was my least favorite Cirque but not because it was bad.  It just wasn't enough "Cirque" for me...if that makes sense.  The stage was amazing because there really is no stage.  We had front row seats and we were looking literally everywhere because the stage is all around you.  Great show and performance.

Piano Bar- This is another regular place for us all thanks to my brother and his wife.  They took us here last time.  Such a great hidden place.

Margarita Flight- Margaritaville is also one of our favorites.  Instead of getting a huge yard-high margarita, we settled for a flight.

New Shoes- The fun thing about Vegas is anything goes.  It was so much fun to get dressed up every single night.  I snagged these booties at last year's Nordstrom sale and have been wanting to wear them forever.  Unfortunately we went and listened to a DJ later that night....wearing them all night and then dancing at a night club leads to really sore feet.  But at least they are great looking ;)

Celebrity Run-In- Anybody watch The Sing Off?  Well, the greatest a cappella group, Pentatonix, was randomly also at the Shania Twain concert.  We were walking out at the same time that a couple of the members were and I stopped them.  We got to talking and I was like, "by any chance are you in Pentatonix?"  Anyway, I had to get a picture with them!

Shania- Lastly, we saw Shania.  When I heard that Shania was in Vegas a while ago, I KNEW I had to see her.  I thought we would miss her (she is done this month!) but thankful we caught her 7th to last show.  She did not disappoint and it was so much to sing all her songs the whole night.

Whew!  That's about all according to the pictures I have.  So much fun to spend some one-on-one time with Derek.  We were missing our little girl x1000 and could not wait to get home to her.  Oh ya, and our refrigerator decided to quit while we were gone there's that.  BUT all worth it for a little vacay.