Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sibling Birthday Party at Kiddie Acres!

This year we held the kids' birthday party at Kiddie Acres Amusement Park. It's the perfect combination of family fun and "Austin weird." It's family-run and the folks there couldn't be nicer or more accommodating.  Amazingly, Amery was ok with sharing his birthday party with Piper this year. Sure makes things a lot easier than hosting a separate party two weekends in a row!

Lots of fun was had with cousins and friends. 
Clearly the boats are one of the biggest hits.
The train circles around the park twice and passes right by the covered picnic pavilion area where the parties are held.

Piper's birthday cake. This cake was adorable and perfect when it arrived from my friend Kimberly of Kimberly's Kakery. Then I made the worst decision ever by setting it on top of the wagon to get it from the car to the picnic table. Settling ensued. The topper with her name, inspired by me and my insanity, took about 2 minutes and turned out great. 

Forgot to snap a photo of the cupcakes so I had to settle for an iPhone pic in crappy lighting. More internet inspiration for the ticket toppers, this time from Rock 'n Roll Bride. There are all kinds of Ebay and Etsy sellers selling these tickets. I ended up going with Etsy seller wrapworks and had a great experience.  The only problem I had was buying way too many! I originally thought about making some paper chains out of the extra tickets, but just plain ran out of time in the end.
Amery doesn't care for cake, so he requested cookies instead. For the candle, I bought a huge "6" candle from Party City. Then Jon cut a slit in the bottom of a paper bowl, stuck the candle in, and we piled up the cookies around it.

Stayed lit *just* long enough to blow it out. Amery's shirt is from Etsy seller GnomEnterprises.

Piper, on the other hand, likes cake just fine.
The only shot I got of her cute new dress from decaf plush.  Hopefully someone else got a better one. Oh, and I bought her some cute new pink gingham TOMS to go with it but couldn't find them the day of the party.  I tore my house apart looking for those damn shoes. They are still MIA and probably will be until they are too small.


Invitations and water bottle labels from Etsy seller pinkcreativeinvites. I rounded the corners with a corner punch prior to sending them out. Great quality and Gretchen is easy to work with.
I stressed and stressed over the joint party aspect of the whole thing. I worried that Amery's school friends would feel obligated to bring a gift for both kids. In the end, I gave parents a heads up via email before sending out the invitation that the party was for both kids, and to please not feel obligated to bring two gifts.

In all the party excitement, I forgot to snap pictures of the favors, the table decor, and worst of all, my family all together! I'll come back and update if I can find other guests who took pictures that day.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Texas Trash (Black Bean and White Corn Salsa with Avocado and Cilantro)


There's been a fair bit of controversy since I first started making this recipe about what it's actually called.  I call it Texas Trash because the woman who taught me to make it - the mother of one of Jon's childhood friends - calls it Texas Trash.  The actual Texans, however, have their own opinions.   Some insist it's called Texas Caviar, but a quick Pinterest search on "Texas Caviar" brings up photos of something that looks similar but contains tomatoes, jalapenos, pinto beans, and all kinds of other stuff in there.  Conversely, a Pinterest search on "Texas Trash" bring up either a cheesy bean dip or a bowl of Chex Mix. I won't go so far as to title this post "The REAL Texas Trash" but we all know, don't we.  Thenceforth and forevermore (in this blog post) we'll call it Texas Trash.

Here's what you need:


  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of white shoepeg corn
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 bag of Tositos Hint of Lime Flavored Tortilla Chips
Start out by draining and washing the beans. Growing up in Minnesota, we didn't eat a lot of black beans unless we were at a restaurant, so the first time I opened a can I didn't realize they would be all kinds of soupy in there. Clean beans are prettier.


Add the corn to the beans.  If you get in a bind and can't find white shoepeg corn, get whatever white corn you can find before settling for yellow canned corn.  The white corn is sweeter and "crisper" in my opinion.  Mix the beans and corn together (you can wash the corn too, but there's usually not much juice in the cans, at least not in the Green Giant brand I use) and throw in some onion.  How much?  Eh, I dunno, how much do you like onion?  I doubled the recipe I made for this post and I used about 2/3 of that big onion in the picture. So maybe 1/3 of a big onion?  You can always add more later to taste.


Mix up the onion, corn, and beans and throw in a bunch of cilantro. How much?  That depends on if you ask me ("All of it! All the cilantro!") or Jon ("Can we just leave out the cilantro?"). In other words, put in as much or as little as you like.  Mix that up and squeeze the lime juice on the whole bunch.  Here again, you may want more than one lime, taste it at the end and add more if you need to.

At this point you can do one of two things. If you plan to serve it within the next 30 to 60ish minutes, you can go ahead and add in the avocado.  If you are making it ahead to serve later in the day or even the next day, I would wait and add the avocado right beforehand. Even with the lime juice in there it gets brown pretty fast.

One large avocado is usually enough but you can always...wait for it...add more later if you like. Mix it all up again and it should look something like this:


I prefer to serve this with the Tostitos Hint of Lime chips.  There really is no salt in the recipe and the added salty-tangy-ness of the lime chips adds a lot.  I know plenty of folks who love it just as much with regular tortilla chips too.  This is one of those recipes you really have to taste once or twice or eighteen times to make sure it's just right before you serve it. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter Family Photos

My sister and I got my parents a family photo session for their 40th wedding anniversary this year. I don't think we've had professional family photos taken of all of us since Jon and I got married in 2005.  The photos were taken at Laura and Brett's store, Rustic River Trading Company, in Emily, Minnesota by Abbey of Whim Photography in Owatonna, Minnesota.










Monday, September 30, 2013

Safety Palms

Remember this ledge?


A little closer...


We had to do something about that drop-off to the yard below. A person making their way around that side of the pool and spa could easily step off the edge and twist an ankle or worse.  The new patio was looking a little bare anyway, so mom and I ran out to Home Depot and picked up a few Pygmy Date Palms.  

We already had four large terracotta pots scattered about the yard looking messy and dejected:


Actually, that guy in the middle had one lonely elephant ear plant that suddenly came back to life after all the rain we've had recently.  My mom transplanted it to a smaller pot so we could use the big one for one of the palms.  After discovering, freaking out over, and destroying a giant fire ant colony in that pot on the far right, we ended up with a really great solution to the safety issue:



I didn't have them yet for these pictures, but I also picked up three solar path lights for about $2 each at Target and stuck one in each pot. They add a bit of ambiance and more warning that the edge is near when it's dark outside. 

It turned out that the fourth pot was a bit small than the other three, and it just so happened that one of the palms we chose was also smaller than the other three.  We placed that combo next to a storage bench on the other side of the pool, along with that transplanted elephant ear plant.


For now, this project is just about done. We have a few more candle holders and such to hang around the place, but until we round up some more budget, the pool resurfacing, concrete wall extension, and additional landscaping are on hold.  I'll take some final pics of the patio with our furniture, lights, curtains, etc this weekend.





Thursday, September 26, 2013

Oh, this guy?


No biggie, except that he just happened to turn FIVE today!


After last year's party was cancelled due to Piper's early arrival, he was just a little excited for this year's party:


He parked himself in the "king chair" and didn't move for the rest of the party:



Happy Birthday to my first pride and joy, the smartest smartie I know!