isla’s first birthday

I love birthdays. It’s the only day you get to celebrate the pure existence of a person. This birthday was especially significant since it was my little Isla’s first. It also marks the anniversary of our little family becoming three.

So without further ado, here are tons of photos and details of the celebration I put together for our little lady.

I went with a glitter/sparkle theme and used the colors mint, pale pink, peach and gold to pull it off. I made most of the decorations myself and baked (with the help of my mom) all of the tasty treats.

Here is a link to my Pinterest board that I made to collect inspiration.

The invitations had sparkly bows on the front and fun, playful sparkly polka dots on back. I made each of the bows, but I promise, I didn’t individually sparkle the polka dots, I bought that paper and cut it to fit the back of the invites.

I served a dessert buffet, mostly full of cake, but there were also glitter almond sandwich cookies, peppermint patties and vanilla meringues. The large mint colored cake and the small peach cake was Smitten Kitchen’s Golden Butter Cake. The medium sized peach cake was Champagne Glitter Cake inspired by Appolinas.

I decorated the cakes with buttercream frosting, sanding sugars and disco dust. Unfortunately these photos don’t really do the cakes justice, they really did sparkle.

I found this sparkler candle from a little shop in Ballard way back in November and knew it would be perfect for this little fete.

Guests sipped on pink lemonade, a sparkling cocktail made with champagne, grapefruit juice and grenadine and small cartons of organic milk. And there were also paper straws in complimentary party colors.

I covered our kitchen table (BJ finished it just in time) in white butcher paper and lined homemade party hats down the center. I had crayons on hand for guests to draw while they were hanging out.

Inspired by Confetti System, I made tassel garland from crepe paper, mylar and rope trim. I hand cut confetti from the scraps left over from the tassel garland which I scattered down the table and around the desserts. All of the desserts were displayed on my jadeite cake stands which sat on top of a pink striped tablecloth.

I also made a Fancy Frill Balloon using crepe paper, tinsel and a gigantic 36″ round balloon. If huge balloons don’t make you happy, I’m not sure what will.

We had so much fun celebrating our little girl. The weather was perfect and we had a full house of people who we’re so thankful to call our friends. Isla rocked the celebration despite the fact that she only had one nap.

Believe it or not, this is the best group photo we got of (most of) the kiddos.

PS: thanks to my parents for all of their help. There’s no way, I could have pulled off all of this without their help. And to my husband, because, obviously. Thanks, also, to dear Megan who came all the way up from Seattle just to celebrate little I. She was also our official photographer. 🙂

PPS: Isla’s little dress was custom made by my talented mother. I don’t have a great photo of the whole thing, but it has the cutest cap sleeves and bubble hem. Thanks, Mom!

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grandma phyllis’s cinnamon rolls

Remember these delicious sweet rolls? Remember how a few of you asked for the recipe about a month ago? Well, since I know you Midwesterners are getting huge snow storm this weekend, I thought I would share this recipe as it’s the perfect thing to bake when you’re stuck inside your house all day. You can’t rush sweet rolls so make sure you have plenty of time to dedicate to these delicious breakfast-y treats.

My Grandma Phyllis makes these rolls almost every time we are at her house. It seems that she always has a pan of fresh rolls and if she doesn’t, it’s guaranteed that she has some in the freezer just waiting for us to come and visit. Before I moved back to Washington I asked her if she would teach me how to make her famous sweet rolls. I’m still no expert, but at least I learned from one.

This recipe makes two 9 x 13 pans of rolls, which is a lot of rolls, but it can be easily halved.

So here goes, I apologize for the long directions, but I think they’re helpful, especially if you’re a bread making novice.

Grandma Phyllis’s Sweet Roll Dough:

1/2 cup warm water (I would say about 115 degrees)

2 packages dry yeast (not rapid rise)

1-1/2 cup lukewarm milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter

7 to 7-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

Directions:

  • Scald milk in glass measuring cup.
  • Dissolve yeast in water and let it stand.
  • While milk is cooling, add sugar, salt and butter to your mixer’s bowl. The mixer should be fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add milk after it is cooled (it doesn’t have to be all the way cool, just not steaming hot). Add eggs and 1-2 cups flour to beat in.
  • Add yeast mixture to mixing bowl when the mixture is lukewarm.
  • Add flour one cup at a time. You can use your stand mixer for another couple cups of flour, but then stir in flour until too stiff to stir.
  • Turn onto floured board or countertop and knead in the rest of the flour. Amount of flour varies, so go by how dough feels, usually not more than 7 cups, sometimes 6-1/2. The dough should be softer than for regular bread.
  • When dough is right consistency and smooth from kneading, place in a large, clean, greased or oiled bowl. Cover with towel or lid. Let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about an hour and a half.
  • Turn out onto floured board or countertop (again) and knead until approximately the original size and no large bubbles remain. Put back in the bowl and let rise until double (again).
  • Knead down again. Shape into any sweet rolls you’d like…

Here are your sweet roll options:

Classic Cinnamon Rolls (this is the amount for one pan of cinnamon rolls, remember the recipe above will make 2 pans)

2 Tbsp softened butter

1/2 cup sugar mixed with 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • Set oven to 350 degrees.
  • Roll dough with rolling pin into 15″ x 9″ oblong. Get out your ruler and measure it, because that’s what Grandma Phyllis would do. Plus, your rolls will be much more uniform if you measure it out instead of eyeballing.
  • Spread the dough with the softened butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Make sure to get the butter and cinnamon/sugar all the way to the edges of the dough.
  • Roll up the dough tightly, the wide side should be parallel to you. Seal by pinching the edge to the dough. Stretch dough as you work to get it as even as possible- you don’t want one side to be thicker than the other.
  • Cut long roll into 1″ thick slices. Place in greased 9 x 13 pan. Don’t forget to grease the sides. You should have 4 rows of 3 rolls per row. (The ones I made that are pictured above are smaller than they should be because I didn’t measure my dough.) The rolls won’t be touching just yet.
  • Cover and let rise until double.  They will typically rise a bit faster this time.
  • Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. They should be light to medium brown when done.
  • When done place baking rack or platter over baking pan and invert, turning rolls out onto baking rack or platter. If you’re using a rack it helps to put wax paper or parchment paper over the rack so it isn’t so messy. You can bake these and then frost them with powdered sugar frosting.

Caramel Rolls (these are the ones my Grandma always makes)

1/3 to 1/2 cup butter (depending on how much caramel you like)

1/2 to 2/3 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. light colored corn syrup or 1 Tbsp cream

1/2 cup chopped pecan halves (optional)

  • Follow instructions for the cinnamon rolls above but do not place them in the baking pan.
  • Grease the sides of your 9 x 13 pan. Melt the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup/cream in the pan. Make sure to mix these ingredients well as they’re melting to form a caramel. Then sprinkle with nuts, if using.
  • Place the cut roll dough over the caramel mixture and let rise until double.
  • Bake as directed above- 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Invert immediately on baking rack or platter. Make sure to leave the pan upside down for about 30-60 seconds so all of the caramel-y goodness drips out of the pan onto the rolls.

I realize there are a lot of steps, so I hope it all makes sense. They don’t take as much time as you think, it’s a lot of “hurry up and wait.” Yeast breads are a little tricky to make, but they are so delicious when they’re finished, that they’re worth every bit of it. Let me know if you have any questions or if something is unclear.

And definitely let me know if you end up making these sweet rolls, I’d love to hear how they turn out!

And because they’re a lack of photos in this post, I’ll leave you with this photo of the little one practicing her claps on Valentine’s Day.

our weekend: full hearts

We had a great weekend with lots of activity and lots of friends. I had to spend Monday recovering from it all.

I’ve started a little running group that meets on Saturday mornings, it’s pretty casual. This past weekend was our first run together and it was lots of fun. The weather has been amazing here in Washington, along with everywhere else it seems, and it was the perfect day for a run. If anyone is interested in joining our little group, let me know- the more the merrier!

After my Saturday morning run and a coffee date with a friend…(seriously, when was the last time I had a coffee date with a friend and didn’t bring my baby?!) Anyway, after coffee, two of my beloved friends came up from Seattle for a visit. We. Had. So. Much. Fun. I haven’t spent time with these girls in a while.

Megan and Caitlin with little I.

Baking Brownie Baked Alaskas. (here is a similar recipe.)

Megan did lots of the actual work in the kitchen. (that’s what you get when you work at Canlis)

While Cait provided lots of moral support.

We had lunch, walked around and looked at some shops, chatted, made dinner, split a bottle of wine and had great chats and giggles all along the way. They left around 10:00 that night and my heart was full. Thanks for coming girls! 🙂

On Sunday we went to a Super Bowl party with a bunch of friends. I love an excuse to get together, even if it is for a football game. Don’t get me wrong, I like to watch football, but I’m also happy to see the season end. There were lots of snacks (the Buffalo Chicken bites made an appearance), delicious beer (with a few homebrewers in the group that’s a given), one silly toddler and lots of cheering.

I love weekends full of friends. What did you guys do?

 

our weekend: home sweet home

Since we haven’t been “stepping out” on too many Saturdays lately, I thought I’d start my own little weekend series called, “Our Weekend,” creative title, I know. I think it’s fun to see what people have been up to during their weekend hours and I hope you’ll enjoy a little snippet from our lives.

We spent the weekend close to home since we’ve been gone for the last few weeks. It was nice, quiet and cozy, just the way a weekend in January should be.

I went on a run. A rainy run. It was cold but glorious.

We worked on the yard, pulling out tons of old veggie plants, pruning our grapes, and trying to get our backyard under control. (Something we maybe should have done 2 months ago.) When my husband goes to town in the backyard there’s always some type of plant casualty. It usually involves a tree or some bush that live(d) in the middle of the yard and that was always in the way of the lawn mower. Yesterday was no exception.

I made my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that comes straight from the First Lutheran Church of Sauk Centre, Minnesota cookbook. If you don’t have a Midwestern church cookbook in your collection, I highly recommend getting one. I open this cookbook when I’m looking for one of those “remember when Grandma used to make” recipes. These cookies are soft and chewy and you can leave your mixer on the whole time while you add the ingredients. They’re my go-to cookie.

For dinner we made this delicious Hot and Sour soup and fresh rolls. I love fresh rolls.

The little one and I are headed out to a baby shower for a dear friend this afternoon and I’m sure there will be lots of football watching while I’m gone.

Happy weekend to everyone. I hope you stayed warm and feel rested and renewed for the week ahead!

 

Steppin’ Out Saturday: dinner and dessert

You guys are probably thinking that we don’t get out much since we’re always home on Steppin’ Out Saturday, but the truth is, we are part of a babysitting co-op that takes place Friday night, so that’s when we have our date nights. We get dressed up, we go out to dinner or do something equally date-like. If SOS is about getting yourself together and wearing a cute outfit I should post about our Friday nights, but then again it’s called Steppin’ Out Saturday, so…

We had a great day yesterday. The weather was relatively nice. BJ and I each got to do something for our selves and we also spent time together as a family. A recipe for success, I tell you.

I spent the morning at the Girls on the Run 5k. Since I wasn’t able to coach this Fall I was a running buddy with my old team. It was fun to see them, their moms said it meant a lot that I came and my running buddy Maddy ran the fastest I’ve ever seen her run. It was so much fun. If you’re a runner (or not even) but you have a heart for cultivating a positive attitude and healthy lifestyle for girls I highly encourage you to look into a program in your area. I have participated in some capacity for a couple years now and have loved it.

BJ went shooting after my run and I worked on drafting a pattern (I know, it’s true) for a pencil skirt. I’ll share the DIY and finished project if it happens to be a success.

The real exciting part of our day happened around dinner time. Sometimes when we can’t think of what to have for dinner we try to decide what we’d have if we were going to go out and then make that. We started talking about one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, the Icon Grill, and their ice cream sundae. If you’ve visited me in Seattle you’ve probably been with me to have the epic Icon ice cream sundae. I had it to celebrate my graduation from college and our engagement. It was one of my pregnancy wishes to visit Icon and have that sundae for dinner. (which we never got around to doing, so I’ll have to get pregnant again to fulfill that wish)

Anyway, we decided to make it for dessert last night, since it was one of the only things that sounded good to me. As with any place you know has an a-MAH-zing dessert you eat lightly for dinner, so we ate wedge salads for dinner. They were especially good because we made our own dressing, but the real piece de resistance was our dessert.

OK, so here’s what we did for our sundae..we did NOT mess around…Tillamook vanilla ice cream, we made Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for hot fudge sauce, M&Ms (Icon uses mini M&Ms but we couldn’t find them), freshly whipped cream, slivered almonds, and baked up a tuile bowl for it all to live in. None of these items took us very long to make from scratch and I know they were so much better than what we could have bought at the store.

Assembling the goodness. (do you love the matching grey sweatshirt and grey comfy pants?)

The most magical part is the cone of hot fudge.

And then this happens. (sorry this video is kind of dark)

Happy weekend!

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