Thursday, November 07, 2013

Will's First Haircut

We put it off long enough, and I was at the point where at times I felt the need to tell Will "get a haircut you hippie", until I realized that the reason he hadn't had a haircut yet was me. I really wasn't too sentimental about it like some moms are. I knew that he would be my baby still regardless of the length of his hair, I'm really just a procrastinator is what it comes down to, but I finally made the appointment and we went in on Tuesday to get Will's hair cut. Jake decided to show how long it really was on top for the before picture. Oh, and I apologize for the poor camera phone pictures, I didn't grab the good camera on the way out of the house.

It didn't look too bad from the front still since we could comb it over in a little businessman look, but in the back and around his ears it was starting to get pretty long. I have nothing against kids with longer hair, but Will just is one of those kids that looks best with the classic clean-cut look, so it was time.

Will got to sit in the chair like a big boy, and had fun while our hairdresser was pumping the chair up to be taller. He even got to turn the clippers on and off and didn't really seem to mind them, that is until the got a little too close to his head. After that he was not a fan.

He got moved to the counter to see if that would calm him down, and he was cool with the scissors part of the cut, but when the clippers came back out to do the finishing touches to make the neckline straight and get around the ears he had had about enough, so Jake had to hold him for the last few minutes of the cut.

He looks bigger now, but what we notice the most is how much he looks like his cousin Cameron when he was younger with this cut, especially from the back.

He doesn't seem to have noticed a difference in his hair, but when I go to rub his head I can't run my fingers through his sweet little locks anymore. I know it will grow back out though, so I'm not too upset by it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fun and Inexpensive Halloween Decorating

Every year we host a Halloween party at our house.  I have done a little decorating for it in the past, but this year I found some great buys at good prices that really upped the decorating factor, and I love it. I started with the table where all the food would be laid out. I have had this piece of fabric since I was in college and used it as a swag curtain in my dorm room, yeah, classy, I know. Since it's so long I thought it would be kind of fun to drape it down over the table from above. It feels creepier to me that way, I don't know why, but I like it.

Next I worked on the decorations for the table itself. I bought some candlesticks at a garage sale for twenty-five cents several years ago and painted them black. You can read the tutorial for that here. I also grabbed a green vase that a found at another garage sale a while back that is all bumpy and looked a little creepy and Halloween-esqe to me.

Next I quickly threw together this little mummy lantern that Katie Bower explains how to make here. I  cheated a little and just used some white streamers that I had on hand instead of actual fabric, and black construction paper for the eyes and mouth, but I still think it turned out fine, and took less than 5 minutes to make with no money spent since I already had the vase, construction paper and streamer. Oh, and I just taped the construction paper and streamer right onto the vase, just making sure that any tape that you can see (which is very minimal) was in the back.

After looking at the table so far, I decided it needed some height, so I headed out to the back yard to get a few sticks to throw in the green vase, but while I was looking I came upon something much better in the slightly overgrown section of the yard along the fence. I have no idea what this plant is called, but I loved playing with them as a kid. It has purple berries on it that you can squish and will dye your skin purple, I don't think my mom was ever that happy about it when I came in with purple hands and sometimes a purple face, but I guess even then I was a sucker for using what you've got to make something fun. Anyway, I thought that the way the berry branches hung down (almost all of the berries had dried up and fallen off at this point, so they won't be staining anything in my house) and the reddish purple color of the stem was perfect for Halloween, so I cut off a long stem and put a little water in my vase and BAM! awesome centerpiece. I know it doesn't look that exciting in this picture, but it will by the time we are done.

I found some fun paper cut-outs at the dollar store that came in packs of fifteen. There were bat, spider and owl packages (as well as some rats that I didn't get because that didn't sound like my cup o' tea) and each package had two to three different shaped animals in it. I can't tell you how much impact these added to the whole house. I came home with one package each of spiders, bats, and owls, so 45 paper cut-outs in total. I was able to spread them around the whole house, and I love it. I added them to the windows in all of the common rooms as well as in the bathroom and on a couple of things outdoors as well. I think my favorite placement has to be on the inside of the lamp shade though. Here is what it looks like when the lamp is off.

Then when you turn it on...

I had a the same kind of thing going with a spider on the tv, but some of our friends were a little disconcerted by it while we were watching the World Series, so it sadly got moved elsewhere. Here are a few more shots of some of the places the cut-outs made it around the house. 

I also saw some 99 cent spiderwebs while at Party City one day that could supposedly spread to as much as 40 square feet, so I bought three of them to give them a try. I have to admit, they had a little bit of a learning curve to them, but after a little working with them we got it down. Jake put a couple out over the front porch and added a couple of the paper spiders to them. 

I especially like the one that hangs down right over the door. Some other things in the house got spookified with spiderwebs too, like the edges of the tv and this original black and white print that we have by a talented artist friend of ours that already looks a little spooky, so when we added spiderwebs and hung it crooked it was just perfect. 

We also added spider webs over the sink and on the food table in the kitchen. 

I rounded out the food table with a couple of tapers in the candlesticks and a small candle in the mummy vase, as well as another black and white print by our friend that looks a little creepy, and of course, a bowl of candy, it is a Halloween party after all. I really love how the table turned out, and I even printed out these labels for the food too once there everyone showed up and the table was loaded down with all kinds of treats. I feel like the table has so much more impact in person than you can pick up in the pictures, but here are a few detail shots that I love of it.

In all it was a lot of fun doing all the decorating, and it only ran me $7 total for the cut-outs, spiderwebs and taper candles since I had everything else I needed on hand. Even though the party was on Saturday we will be leaving everything up until Halloween since it's so fun and I don't want to pull it down yet, besides, we will be having people over to the house every day leading up to Halloween, and then trick-or-treaters that day, so why take it down when there are more people to enjoy it with still? 

Any other cheap decorating going on this weekend? If you have any other great ideas, please share, we love getting more inspiration!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Happenings and Chicken Gnocchi Soup

This post is just a few pictures and descriptions of what we have had going on the last few weeks and a recipe for my favorite Chicken Gnocchi Soup at the end.

Will decided to "help" with the laundry one day, unfortunately it was all already folded when he turned the basket upside down. As you can see, he was very proud.

For his birthday, Will got a red wagon from his grandparents. He loves riding in it, and his cousins are pretty fond of it as well.

I just got a new phone in September that has filters on the camera. I have been having fun playing with the different filters. I think this one is called warm vintage.

Will also got this four wheeler for his birthday from us (and our generous neighbor that was getting rid of it) and has a pretty good time riding it around. He hasn't figured out how to drive it while he's on it, so we either push or pull him or he just walks around pushing it, but he doesn't mind.

A few minutes after I took this picture Will fell down while he was pushing the four wheeler and cut the inside of his mouth a little bit. He held the four wheeler responsible for the rest of the afternoon and wouldn't play with it, but he got over it the next day.

Will learned how to clap and how to stack one block on top of another last week. He was very proud of himself and would squeal and clap every time he got the blocks stacked up. Sorry for the blurry picture.

Kramer baby.

My mother-in-law turned 50 this past weekend. Captain America was an excellent help with our party planning.

I would post some pictures from her party, but unfortunately all of my pictures from it came out blurry. We also had our niece Ali's birthday party the same day as my MIL's (and a wedding in between the two birthdays, it was a busy day). Here is the birthday girl with her cake.

My sis-in-law took a family photo of us before we left Ali's party for the wedding. We weren't expecting my brother to be in the family picture as well, but he's family too, so I guess it's okay.  

While over at our house on Monday, our friend's car got hit while it was parked on the street. Thankfully no one was injured, but both cars were totalled.

The weather has been really nice lately, so Will and I took advantage of it by going on a walk on Tuesday. We found a very pretty maple leaf while out too, which was kind of surprising since most of the trees are just barely starting to turn.

Since it's finally started to cool down we had our first soup of the season last night. I splurged and went to Panera to buy some bread bowls for the occasion. I made a knock-off of Olive Garden's Chicken Gnocchi soup (which I absolutely love and get every time we go). It was my first time trying the recipe, and I am going to have to make it again. It was very similar to the OG version and wasn't too terribly difficult to make. I got the recipe for the soup from here. I just realized that I forgot to put the thyme in it, but it was still really good, and it heated up well for leftovers today as well, which is always a bonus.

In case you're lazy and don't want to click the link above, here is the recipe for the soup:


Full disclosure, I hardly ever measure when I cook, so the amounts were probably different in my soup.  
  • 1 cup* chicken breasts, diced and cooked (can use canned chicken or turkey)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 quart half and half* (can use evaporated milk)
  • 1 14 ounce can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced*
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 16 ounce package gnocchi*
*I used two very large chicken breasts and two packages of gnocchi since I was making it for 6-8 people, and because I love gnocchi and can't get enough. I also added a little whole milk to make it more soupy since it was getting pretty thick. I was out of garlic in all forms except for some garlic salt, so I added about a tablespoon of that.

In a large stockpot (I used my dutch oven), saute the onion, celery and garlic in the butter and olive oil. When the onion is clear, add the flour and form a roux. Stir and cook a minute. Add the half and half . Meanwhile in another pan, cook the gnocchi. Add the carrots and chicken to the stockpot. Stir often and when it gets thicker, add the chicken broth, gnocchi, spinach and seasonings. Cover and heat through*.

*I actually let it cook a little longer than just heating through in order to get the carrots the consistency I wanted. In the future I might add them at the beginning with the onion and celery so they have more time to get tender.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Monthly Photo Project

I love seeing how much babies change, especially over the first year. So I got the idea to take monthly pictures of Will from John and Sherry on Young House Love, although they actually did weekly photos of their sweet little girl, but I knew I would never actually keep up with that. They also used Photoshop to create their "patches", but since I don't have Photoshop and I do have a mother-in-law with an embroidery machine I decided to use actual patches for our pictures. My wonderful MIL made up patches for all 12 months for us with different material for the patch each month. We also switched up the background every month just to make it a little more fun. I know they also sell patches similar to this at craft stores, so if you are interested in doing your own photo project with your little one but don't have access to an embroidery machine that could be a good option as well.

I tell you what, babies sure are wiggly, so if you decide to do something like this I definitely recommend it being a two person job.

I feel like 5 months is where he really started looking like "himself", partially because he started chunking up more then.

For some reason I can't find the 8 month picture. I know I have it somewhere, but I cannot figure out where it is.

The first several months when he was less mobile I would take about 20-30 pictures and pick out the one I liked the best. By the 11 month pictures this was the only one I really got, other than these two action shots.

And this was with a two man job, that kid is fast. We haven't gotten around to taking his 12 month picture yet, but I'm sure we will soon, once again, this is why I didn't shoot for a weekly picture. I love having these pictures to look back at and see how much he has grown in the last year though, and as a bonus I was able to use them as part of the decoration at his party. They hung on a cute little "clothesline" over the party favor table so that other people could see all the changes in the past year. I don't plan on continuing the monthly photos, but I did love doing it and would like to do it again with any more kids we may have in the future, it's just a nice memento to have to look back on my baby.