Texas State Fair

Everyone has told us since moving to Texas that we have to go to the Texas State Fair and see “Big Tex!”  We visited and had a great time!  We are used to the OC Fair that happens in Orange County every summer, so this felt familiar and fun in comparison.  My favorite thing from the OC Fair is the bucket of hot, mini, cinnamon and sugar donuts …….they are HEAVEN!  But I could not find them here at the Texas state fair.  But where they were lacking in donuts, they made up for in cotton candy…they honestly had the best cotton candy I have ever tasted!  The kids loved the fair (I quietly mourned our Disneyland Days), and we made some great memories.  I am excited about this new fall tradition!

 

Handmade Coupon Book Gift: {With My Cricut}

IMG_6047 My husbands birthday just passed and when I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, he said coupons!  Coupons for things he rarely gets to do…like sleep in, now that we have kids.  I love that he loves homemade things and doesnt want me to spend money! Handmade coupon books are an easy and quick gift to make…and if you have a Cricut Explore machine or any other cutting/crafting machine…it gives them just a little bit of a cleaner more professional look.

In my Cricut Design Space…I simply went to “Insert Images,” and typed “Coupon,” and this was an option to be printed.  What I love is that it is perforated so it can actually be torn off for “redemption.”

IMG_6040This is the first cut-out.IMG_6043The inner piece is a seperate cut out and I also had the cricut write “Good For:” to give it a more profesh look.  Then I just glued them together prior to filling out.  IMG_6042 (1)IMG_6045Then I just filled them out! (I hate listening to talk radio on the AM station…the dull buzzing gives me a headache!)IMG_6044It’s coupons like these that make me want to request a coupon book for my next bday haha!IMG_6046I’m sure there are better ribbons or fancier ways of tying this…but I could only find brown ribbon and I knew he wouldn’t care haha.  I just weaved it through the holes and tied it all together….I probably should have made the bow in the front… oh well!IMG_6039I also used the cricut writing feature to write “Matt’s coupon book” on the front.

Simple and easy gift and my man loved it!

If you are looking into a Cricut, be sure to click the Cricut banner on your right for $50 off your machine!

XOXO,

Care

Sprinkled With Love : {Baby Shower}

Oh how different everything is the second time around haha.  I remember caring about every detail of everything for my 1st child….even the color’s for my shower.  This time around, I told my friends Heather & Julie, they could choose any colors they wanted…and I loved the finished product!  For my shower, or “Sprinkling,” they did a donut/brunch theme with multiple colors….you know, like sprinkles….how clever they are haha.   This post is way past due, but better late than never.  🙂
IMG_4638A big thanks to these ladies for all they did!IMG_4633JOetzell-lo_16They dipped this letter E in actual sprinkles! So adorable!JOetzell-lo_14JOetzell-lo_02JOetzell-lo_21JOetzell-lo_28JOetzell-lo_15JOetzell-lo_33JOetzell-lo_22JOetzell-lo_03
JOetzell-lo_23JOetzell-lo_13I was obsessed with this dress!  I also wore it in my maternity photoshoot.  It’s from Nordstrom’s rack, its not a maternity dress (I just bought a bigger size), and they had it in black as well!JOetzell-lo_17JOetzell-lo_62JOetzell-lo_30A beautiful shot of my eldest Evangeline
JOetzell-lo_37JOetzell-lo_45IMG_4646This was an adorable idea they had:  Every guest made a number/letter block for me, and after the shower, my friend Heather used Modge Podge to set them and I have a whole set of personalized, adorable blocks for my girls.  
JOetzell-lo_35I need to post the finished product, but everyone wrote wishes for my daughter Elizabeth, and my friends made it into a keepsake book to have forever!  


XOXO, Caroline

My Faves of Portland : {Making the most of a short trip}

IMG_6371_2“Keep Portland Weird” is a phrase that was painted on the wall of a local pizza place by our hotel…and it says so much about Portland!  Portland is weird and quirky and artsy and beautiful and they own it!

Because my mom is a cosmetic laser trainer and travels all the time; training clinics and doctor’s office staff on their newly purchased lasers….she gets to travel and earn lots of travel points and rewards!  So we used some of her rewards points and had a mother/daughter trip to Portland two weeks ago!

It was a short trip (Sunday night-Wednesday evening) so we had to make the most of our time to ensure we saw everything we wanted to.

Despite only being there a few days, I FELL IN LOVE WITH PORTLAND!  It had all the best things of a big city: tons of things to do and see, so many great and unique eateries, amazing parks, quirky neighborhoods, etc……but it was so much better than most of the famous big cities I have visited!  Mainly because it was clean, lush and green, the people were so friendly, and it was oh so quiet!  Of course being the socal girl that I am….it helped that it didn’t rain while we were there :).

Here are just a few highlights and recommendations on where to eat and what to see when there….especially if its only for a short time!  Prior to leaving I scoured blogs, Pinterest and yelp to make sure I hit great spots.  Plan a trip there soon friends!!

EAT:

  • VooDoo Doughnuts – Famous for their crazy donuts
  • Salt & Straw – Amazing & unique ice cream flavors (like Olive Oil)…plus this is in a cute neighborhood that I wish I had time to really explore!
  • Tasty & Alder – Great breakfast biscuits! (although I still need to try Pine St. Biscuits)
  • Veritable Quandary – The Bacon Dates app was on point, and everything was so delish here…but make a reservation!
  • Cheryl’s on 12th – Not only did I chat and talk about babies with the actual Cheryl, but my mother and I shared drinks, chatted, and showed off baby pictures with a lovely couple sitting next to us.  Oh yeah and the food was great…I had a fig & goat cheese sandwich!
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – The best coffee…seriously so smooth and delish!  You will find a number of cafe’s and bakeries around the city that promote that they brew Stumptown.
  • Lovejoy Bakers – Grab a Stumptown coffee and a pastry and you can sit on their adirondack chairs and just relax..taking in the Pearl District!
  • Petunia’s Pies & Pastries – Vegan Bakery…my mom was obsessed with the raspberry bars
  • Ken’s Artisan Bakery – We had an amazing lunch here…the bread is so fresh and I love that goat cheese came on the salad.
  • Andina – Peruvian Food (I recommend the cheese plate & quinoa crusted shrimp)
  • Isabel – Yummy latin breakfast (I had the artichoke scramble)
  • Lonesome’s Pizza – Open late and cheap delicious slices from a tiny speak-easy type window (Cash Only)

SEE:

  • Washington Park – There are endless things to do here.  You can visit the zoo, rose garden, japanese garden, tree arboretum, children’s museum, etc.  And the hiking…oh the amount of trails!
  • Waterfront Park – This runs along the river which divides Portland and it is a great walk where you can take in all the gorgeous bridges!…just watch out for all the bikers!
  • Keller Fountain Park – This is a fountain (although it didn’t have water when we were there) that just looks so cool!

SHOP:

  • Powell’s Bookstore – THE bookstore in Portland
  • The Pearl District – This was my favorite neighborhood to explore.  It has a ton of cute shops, adorable homes and apartments, art installations and sculptures line the streets, and it is just oh so hip feeling haha.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • You can’t catch cabs in the city…just from the airport or if your hotel calls one for you
  • The train/bus system is awesome but you can walk the city fairly easy (when you stick to one side…I.E. the Westside or the Eastside)
  • Best months to travel there are August and September…a friend from there told me Don’t go in the fall!…you can seriously get just drenched by the rain!
  • They offer great tours…like bike tours and brewery tours.
  • If you do rent a car…there are lots of one way streets and you have to pay for parking pretty much wherever you go in the downtown area…but I didn’t find it was too hard to find a spot or too expensive.
  • Traffic going in and out of the city can be rough so plan ahead when trying to catch a flight.

I MUST go back…and maybe I will bring the hubby along next time :).

IMG_6382_2

My favorite cheat sheet/map that I found! IMG_6379_2We loved our stay at the Embassy Suites Downtown…the decor was so 1920’s art deco…and the accommodations were great!
IMG_6510No joke the cheese plate at Andina’s…the corn nuts!…so good 
IMG_6514 IMG_6473Our appetizer at Veritable QuandaryIMG_6469_2These cinnamon/sugar puffs (like a beignet) come free as you wait for your meal at Cheryl’s on 12th!IMG_6458This is at Washington Park and there were just so many trails!….I was almost expecting Edward Cullen to walk out from behind a tree.
IMG_6461Lush lush lushIMG_6446These are the drinking fountains that are spread around the SouthWest side of Portland…they are all around and the water constantly flows!  Plus the water there tastes AMAZING!IMG_6443_2Keller Fountain Park…would have been so cool if it was flowing…but still so beautiful.IMG_6441_2Walking along Waterfront ParkIMG_6426_2VooDoo Doughnuts…the line can get cray so go when its slow!IMG_6419_2This place is so adorable and the vegan treats were delish!
IMG_6409Our lunch at Ken’s Artisan BakeryIMG_6398_2At Lovejoy BakersIMG_6400_2Oh you know…just a baby on a bench :).  IMG_6392_2Such cute homes in The Pearl!IMG_6391_2Oh I love all the greenery!

There were a ton more places to see and eat at but there just wasn’t time (feel free to comment if you want more recommendations).  So….looks like I will just need to go again.  Until next time PDX!

Mob Gangster Birthday Party {Mike’s 35th}

IMG_4126This mob gangster birthday party was open house style from noon to 10pm with people coming and going all day.  There were classic mob movies playing round the clock, multiple outfit changes by the birthday boy, and multiple meals (subs, spaghetti, cheese and crackers, and much more).  The hostess kept calling me her “Poppa”….as in her paparazzi since I was taking all the pics haha.  I couldn’t stay the whole time to get pics of the whole night but what I got was classic and I had a blast!  Happy Birthday Mike!

IMG_3948The idea was to make the place feel like an old fashioned Italian restaurant.IMG_3950The mantel was decorated with things like pasta, wine, grapes, corks, olive oil and balsamic.IMG_3962IMG_3961IMG_4005IMG_4009Wine for days!IMG_4045IMG_4019The bar had lots of extra props for those who didn’t come dressed as gangsters.IMG_4072IMG_3946There were cigars, tommy guns, gum, pipe cleaners, and firecrackers lying around.  
IMG_3985 IMG_3999 IMG_4002Had to sneak one of my girl in there with her “gangster” glasses on.  IMG_4017IMG_4024The birthday boy in his first outfit taking people for a spin in his Corvette. IMG_4026Some luxury cars were taking up the driveway.IMG_4032I just love the little touches of Mike’s outfit.  Not only was he wearing this ring, watch and track suit…but he had a gold chain, a gun and harness under his tracksuit, gold glasses, and blue contacts. IMG_4036The hostess with the mostess in her mob-wife attire!…..it suits her.IMG_4058The birthday boys second outfit and grand entrance.  
IMG_4065Getting a boutonniere pinned by his mob-momma.  IMG_4068IMG_4071IMG_4078 IMG_4079 IMG_4081One of the games people could play was “lock picking.”  There were tons of locks with bobbi pins, paper clips, and other tools for people to try and successfully pick.
IMG_4086The hostess handling business.IMG_4088 IMG_4097Walter White aka Heisenberg sighting!!  Def a gangster!IMG_4115One last pic:  Selfie of me with some of my faves wearing no gangster attire!

A Valentine’s Day Picnic : {Evangeline’s First Birthday Party}

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Last year I went into labor on February 13th and we were sure that we were going to have Evangeline on Valentine’s Day.  But of course she didn’t come until February 15th at 7:18am.  Even though we just missed it by a few hours, we still call her our Valentine’s baby. So when it came time to pick a theme for her 1st birthday party there was no contest; A Valentine’s Day theme!…hearts galore!  I had so much fun dreaming up the party, and then actually carrying all those things out (with the help of some awesome friends)!  I may have gone a little overboard…the house looked like a love bomb exploded in there haha. Happy Birthday my sweet Evangeline!

DSC_8174DSC_8177When people first walked in there was this sign with instructions on the party and the picnic basket of bubbles for the kids.

DSC_8149The “Love is Sweet” garland was purchased on Etsy here!DSC_8414My friend Jenna told me about where to purchase this sign on Etsy here.  I purchased the photo, had it printed at Costco for under $5 and mounted it on black poster board. DSC_8096I bought the cake toppers here! See my Healthy Cake Smash RecipeDSC_8394DSC_8067IMG_3419DSC_8095I bought these at the $1 section at Target.DSC_8144I am in love with this table runner I got on Etsy here!  See my always soft Marshmallow Chunk Rice Krispie Treat RecipeIMG_3440DSC_8211She loved looking at pictures of herself.  I kept saying “Who is that baby!?”IMG_3443DSC_8196DSC_8172I made these gorg mason jar gold glitter “vases” special for the party…now they decorate almost every room in my home and I love it!IMG_3458DSC_8326My good friend Claire was nice enough to make some heart shaped PB&J’s for the younger ones who weren’t into the taco bar.
DSC_8163
DSC_8216DSC_8383DSC_8447We had a decorate your own heart shaped cookie table as a party favor.

DSC_8449DSC_8594DSC_8541Evangeline’s adorable dress was purchased at my favorite Etsy shop for girls dresses: Twinkle & Whim
DSC_8654Children enjoyed the parachute games, park play ground, and bubbles.  DSC_8683DSC_8693DSC_8721See my Gold Heart Piñata DIYDSC_8924The piñata was a little too tough to break for the kiddies so my husband ripped it apart.DSC_8974The end result of the cake smash….no cake smashed haha.  Thank you Karla & Heather for decorating the high chair! DSC_9045We were so blessed by our friends and family.DSC_9058We had to sneak in a costume change to try on one of her new outfits while she played with her new toys. DSC_9004All tuckered out!  It was a great party with our lil’ nugget.

Healthy Smash Cake : {Healthy Banana Bread}

IMG_3412When it came time for my daughters 1st birthday party I immediately got nervous about her cake.  I know it’s tradition to give your child their first bit of sweets on their birthday but I desperately didn’t want to.  Now TRUST ME when I say I am not judging other moms that have, this is personal.  I am someone who LOVES sweets and has struggled my whole life to eat them in moderation…and I guess I don’t want my daughter to have that struggle.  Also she has already had sugar haha.  I came home from work one day to find out that my mom had fed my daughter donut holes for breakfast (this was months ago btw)…so she has had enough for the year.  Plus I already struggle with getting her to eat the fruit and veggies on her tray over her toast and meats…so why add another food distraction for her?  (My little sister was like this….I think she would only eat Cheeto Puffs and macaroni and cheese for the first 5 years of her life haha).  Anyway, so in order to give E a smash cake, I decided to make a healthy banana bread cake.

The Bad News:  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a healthy frosting so she got regular whipped vanilla frosting.  AND she didn’t eat any of the cake or frosting at her actual party!  In a nutshell she had a meltdown with frosting all over and wanted out of that chair ASAP.

The Good News:  The day before when I was leveling off the cake to make even layers I gave her the excess and she loved it!  (With no frosting) 

And who cares that the picturesque cake smash didn’t go as planned haha…I have enough “cute” moments with this girl to last a lifetime!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Ripe Bananas
  • 2 Individual Unsweetened All-Natural Applesauce Containers
  • 3tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs (Beaten)
  • 1/4 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp Nutmeg
  • (Optional): Nuts & sugar or natural sweetener such as honey, agave, or stevia

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.
IMG_3369 Rachael Ray says instead of peeling bananas and mashing them, squish them inside the peel, then peel and place in the bowl.  Supposedly when using bananas to cook with, it helps make the bread fluffier. 
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My bananas were not fully mashed which left chunks in my bread…this wasn’t a problem for me, but if you don’t want chunks, then take a spoon and mash the bananas down a little more in the bowl.IMG_3383I didn’t measure the applesauce, I just used two of these individual containers.IMG_3374Combine applesauce, bananas, yogurt and vanilla.IMG_3378 Beat the eggs prior to mixing into the applesauce/banana mixture.IMG_3379 In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients, then combine with the wet ingredients.IMG_3382Pour into two 6″ greased cake pans.  (Just divide the batter in half), bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  (Toothpick center of cake to make sure it is done).
IMG_3385You can see the banana chunks in mine.IMG_3398Clearly I didn’t divide my batter in half haha! (Do as I say, not as I do).  Let cool on a wire rack.  It’s a pretty solid cake and won’t break easily, so let them cool flat side down.  IMG_3401 Once cakes are cool, level off the tops using a sharp knife.  (I used a serrated knife)IMG_3404After in was leveled and cooled I placed them on top of each other to ensure they were level and then placed on a cardboard cake base prior to frosting.  This is key because you need to be able to move it from your cake stand to the high chair!DSC_8955

Gold Heart Piñata : {DIY}

DSC_8719When it came time for my daughter’s 1st birthday party I immediately started looking for a heart piñata since it was a Valentine’s Day theme…but I couldn’t find one anywhere!  So I decided to make my own. Trust me when I say this isn’t as cool as it sounds, it is cute, but making it myself made me so nervous it wouldn’t hold together.  LUCKILY it did!…a little too well haha…my husband had to end up breaking it himself.  FYI I seriously just made this up as I went along so if you decide to make one feel free to change things. photo 1 (9)I started by taping large pieces of paper together so that I could trace my giant heart.

I Folded the paper in half and drew my heart.  I then cut out the paper heart and traced it onto cardboard. (Luckily I had a giant cardboard box from a wagon we bought).  Then with an x-acto knife I cut out the hearts.photo 4 (6)photo 1 (10)photo 5 (5)IMG_3325Confession:  I have no ruler, I measured the side panels with a C.D. lol. 
IMG_3327 I bent the side panels and just began glueing them onto one of the hearts.  IMG_3331Things to keep in mind (that I didn’t): 1. Make an open flap for where to put the candy 2. Poke holes at the top and string rope through PRIOR to placing final heart hahaIMG_3359 After placing the last heart on top I taped all the edges just to make sure it was really secure.  IMG_3367IMG_3360 I covered my piñata with gold mylar using the hot glue gun again (But you could cover in anything).  Since I wanted a side of it to be fringed, I cut strips (about 3″ thick) to fringe.IMG_3362To fill it with candy I cut a little square on the top of the heart, then glued and taped it back shut.  Super easy!  (DON’T cut the whole on the bottom).

Christmas {The Highlight Reel}

Since I wasn’t blogging during Christmas time I thought I would show a highlight reel!

Graham Cracker Toffee:
IMG_2781 IMG_2804Pecan Pie Bars:

(I used this recipe and it is amazing!  The only thing I did differently is that I used wax paper instead of foil…MUCH easier!)IMG_2761 IMG_2777 IMG_2821DIY Photo Coasters (Gave as Xmas gifts):
IMG_2686 IMG_2817 IMG_2834Cinnamon Rolls:IMG_3118IMG_3124 IMG_3125IMG_2162Butter Cookies:

(I got lazy and just cut them instead of using cute cookie cutters)
IMG_3151IMG_3157 IMG_3158 IMG_3177Molasses Cookies:IMG_3154 IMG_3169A few personal photos:
IMG_2127E’s First snow
IMG_2155 She passed out in Dad’s office following Christmas Eve ServiceIMG_2173Christmas Day E got this little buggy and loved it!IMG_2184 I got the Target Bar Cart from my hubby!  I LOVE IT!

Hope you all had an amazing and blessed Christmas!