we celebrated claire’s second birthday saturday morning with an extra special brunch for our extra special girl. we were lucky enough to have our close friend, mike, capture the day for us (he is amazing!!). i think claire enjoyed the party, she really loves being around people. however, i made the mistake of adjusting her special diet a few days prior, which always makes her sleepy as she adjusts. needless to say, she wasn’t as active as usual that day. but it was still a beautiful celebration of her. she also collected about $300 to donate to blood:water mission at her lemon:aid stand. i think she would be so happy that her day was used to help others. so many people have prayed, served, loved on and aided us since claire was born. it is only fitting that we do what little we can to forward that love on and honor our daughter’s life in the process.
below is the brunch buffet table. it included mini quiche, lemon whoopie pies, pineapple bars, banana bread pops and fruit cups. the banners are from the fabulous tomkat studio.
we also set up a lemon:aid area with information on blood:water mission and lemonade favors for the guests. (and a hunky guy is posing by it for you.)
here’s the birthday girl.
and her beautiful hands.
here’s our other little baby enjoying the party.
here’s some pictures featuring my pom madness. believe me, this is only half of it.
we also made little jingle bells to ring after we sang the happy birthday song. if you know claire, she LOVES bells!
and just a couple more pictures our claire bear.
we love her so.
i had a few over ripe bananas waiting to be used and everyone knows that i am always in the mood for baking. i usually make my mom’s delicious banana bread but this time i wanted to try something new. of course i turned to my domestic hero, martha. i used her recipe for banana cupcakes and followed it, except i added 1/4 cup pecan chips per adrian’s request. then i topped them with a dollop of her honey cinnamon frosting. they are light, flavorful and would be perfect for breakfast! who says you can’t have cupcakes for breakfast, right?! here’s the recipe:
banana cupcakes (makes 12-14 regular size cupcakes)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana, for garnish (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not overmix). Stir in pecan chips until just incorporated. Dividing evenly, spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.
honey cinnamon frosting
- 1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Using an electric mixer, beat confectioners’ sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.
Top each cupcake with a dollop of frosting and enjoy!
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i first discovered this recipe on the savory sweet life blog and i wish i could give blogger alice a big hug because these little brownie bites are THAT good. i’ve made them a handful of times since and have even adapted the basic brownie batter recipe with other mix-ins like nuts and cacao nibs. i’m thinking of trying another small candy bar center the next time i make them like rollos or mini snickers…yummmm. they are the perfect little size and so tasty that it is difficult to stop yourself at just one. or two. or a handful! here is the super simple recipe. promise me that after you make these you will never use a brownie box mix again. and that you’ll save one for me.
PB Brownie Bites
Makes approx. 40 brownie bites
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
40 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, unwrapped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray mini cupcake pan with non stick spray. In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, sugars and vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour, cocoa, and salt and mix until combined. Fill each cupcake slot slightly more than halfway but not more than 2/3 full. Place a peanut butter cup in each slot pressing it down until it is almost level with the batter. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until done. Allow the brownie bites to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the cupcake tin. Enjoy!
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have you seen all the yummy chicken and turkey sausages they have at the grocery stores now? so many different varieties like chicken/apple or italian herb. on my last shopping trip, i spied a package of habanero/green chile chicken sausage and it spurred this super easy, fresh dinner entree idea.
first, slice the sausage links as well as half a red onion, half a red bell pepper and one jalepeno. then sautee them in a large skillet with a little drizzle of canola oil. while they cook, boil of pot of salted water and add a package of whole wheat penne pasta. cook the pasta as directed, drain and toss with a can of green chile enchilada sauce (available in the mexican food aisle). in a large colander, drain and rinse a can of black beans, a can of corn and a can of diced tomatoes and mix together. i only used about half the bean/corn/tomato mix and added it to the sausage skillet and tossed everything together. then plate your dish! i put some of the green chile pasta in a bowl, spooned on some of the sausage/veggie mix and then topped it all with some chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of grated cheese. in all, it took less than 30 min to make and it was delicious!
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adrian, claire and i ventured up north to flagstaff last weekend for a little overnight stay with our friends– mike, jina and baby lyla. let me start by saying the weather was DIVINE. i cannot imagine living in a place where the sun shines but you don’t feel like you are roasting on a spit. in fact, it felt so nice that i forgot to wear sunscreen and burnt my arms. ouch! we wanted to go to the cardinals training camp but the crowds were absolutely insane. i mean 10s of thousands of people insane. so we set up on the first practice field and relaxed in the shade. we got to see big red the mascot do some crazy backflips with a giant bird head on. it was pretty funny. here’s our little cheerleader:
then we walked around dowtown flagstaff and ate some amazing crepes on this cute little patio outside. nutella, ghiradelli chocolate, raspberry preserves and whipped cream? yes, please!
then we stopped by the famed macy’s coffee. my cappuccino was perfect!
after that we hung out at the hotel, played some pass the pigs with the olbinski’s and marveled at our 3 foot deep, reclaimed water, liquid/solid buttoned toilets. they were an experience to say the least.
the next morning we trekked back down to the heat with a little pit stop at the anthem outlets, yay!
it was a nice, restful weekend. claire was an angel on both car rides, was a little cranky at the hotel but then let us sleep most of the night. it was fun to get away with friends!
1. this is the coolest, freshest way to blog a recipe that i have EVER seen! i am in love with this blog. plus the author just traveled to paris, swoon.
2. speaking of paris, i am going to go to this french bakery/cafe in scottsdale ASAP. i am dying to know if their croissants come close to the undescribable perfection of france. i am crossing my fingers because the husband and wife duo who run it lived there for years. plus he is a fashion photographer and she is a former model for LV, YSL and Hermes. ACK!!! i think i might have found my favorite place on earth and it is only 25 minutes from my house! macaroons, espresso, croque monsieurs, quiche lorraine and crepes+fashion+photography=nicky heaven.
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if you know me, you know that i LOVE to plan a party. and the fact that this party is my little girl’s first birthday makes it ten times more exciting than any party before. my head is a tornado of ideas and soon my hands will be sore from the amount of crafty things i will be creating but to me- it is pure bliss. here’s a little peek into my delightful madness:
– the colors are hot pink, bright orange and lime green. very punchy, very summery, very girly.
– i am taking it upon myself to create these flower pinwheels to display in metal buckets filled with gerber daisies. cute!
– i am also planning on hanging these paper flowers from the rafters of the park ramada.
– the food will be an all american bbq. that means skin-on hot dogs and buns from von hanson’s. no crappy grocery store wieners here, but authentic minnesota meat! (how cool is it that they have one lonely store out here in chandler?!) bbq beans and sides from our own joe’s real bbq, yum. and a few other dishes that i will put together.
– did i mention mini cupcakes yet? i’ve discovered that mini cupcakes are the WAY to go for parties. less mess, easier to eat and the silly skinny-mini’s who say “i don’t want dessert” can’t even resist a tiny bite of cake perfection. come on!
– there will be singing. yep. our good friend and church worship pastor, stephen cole, is helping us make the evening extra special by leading us in song. they will be songs that celebrate the gift God has given us in claire, reflect on the journey this has been in our lives and ultimately tell Him how much we love Him. and if you are a guest and don’t sing? expect to be STRUCK DOWN by lightening. just kidding. but really i might give you the evil eye and you DO NOT want to chance that. 🙂
so there are some of my fantabulous plans. i cannot wait to have our close friends and family there to celebrate claire and what an amazing little miracle she is in this world.
side note: i need to do more posts about random stuff in my life. i’ve realized that our family blog has become nothing but updates on outings/medical stuff and i have so much more to share than that! i miss using it as my creative outlet to share ideas and ponder new things. my goal is to change that and focus more on some of the little loves in my life. like cooking, baking, crafting, reading, music, shopping, the list goes on and on…
it’s lunchtime and i don’t feel like a sandwich. or a salad. or fast food. years ago my mom gave me this super easy, healthy and light lunch idea and i crave it. here’s the lowdown- arrange about 8 crackers on a plate (i use milton’s herb and garlic rounds.) then thinly slice up a roma tomato (or whatever kind you have around.) place the tomato slice on top of the crackers. sprinkle with shaved or shredded (NOT grated) parmesan cheese (i get the kind in the little plastic tub for quick use.) season the crackers with fresh cracked pepper and italian seasoning. drizzle a wee bit of balsamic over the crackers. microwave for about a minute and enjoy! they are fresh, zesty and filling. yummy!
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i have been singing that silly presidents of the united states of america ode to peaches for the last week since i was so excited about picking them at schnepf farms. does anyone else remember that song? movin to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches. ugh. i will never get it out of my head.
anyway, my mom (and claire of course) accompanied me out to the big ol farm in queen creek, where we picked peaches in the breezy sun, got eaten by mosquitoes and peed on by some stray farm dog. can you believe i am speaking of desert-y, barren phoenix? in fact, the guy ahead of us picked over 100 pounds of peaches and was from florida. he said they were better than theirs. yup. even better was you could eat all you wanted in the orchard for free, and luckily we brought wipes because these are the juiciest, sweetest peaches i have ever tasted. perfect. here’s some pictures from our day:
my mom is so pretty.
yum. and they are organic, the farm has never used pesticides in 45 years.
did i mention my mom is silly?
we had to document claire’s first farm visit even though she slept through it all!
the sleepy girl. so cute. sweeter than any peach there.
over valentine’s weekend, adrian took claire, lily and me on a picnic at the farm at south mountain. almost 6 years ago, adrian and i tied the knot there under the canopy of pecan trees as the sun dropped behind our gorgeous mountains. just sitting there with our beautiful baby girl and lovable puppy was a amazing reflection on how fast times passes and what huge changes life brings. it was a great day. claire was awake and happy the whole time, i fed her the bottle for the first time in public and she did a good job. lily was an angel as always and had fun chewing on all the sticks lying around. if you live in the phoenix area and have never visited the farm, i beg you to add it to your schedule. it is a true gem in our desert and a wonderful place for fresh, organic, local food as well.