Sunday, February 21, 2010

Peanut's two!

I spent a low-key day at home on Friday with the birthday girl and she "helped" me get ready for her birthday party the next day.

Friday night we spent 3 hours assembling her birthday present, a play kitchen.

Saturday morning she gave us a huge smile to reward us for our labor. If I ever had a doubt about her birthday present, they are all gone now. This kid looooves this kitchen. The microwave is her favorite. She even makes her own sound effects, "Beep, beep, beep, brrrrrrrrrrrrrr, ding! ding!".

After a nice long afternoon nap, guests began to arrive for her birthday tea party! It was just a family party, but it was still quite a crowd.

She was the happiest birthday girl! She clapped and bounced when we sang to her and even though it took a few tries, blew out the candles on her birthday cake.

The best part of the party for me was seeing her enjoy herself so thouroghly. I kept my camera by my side and caught this moment somewhere between cake and presents.

Another candid moment with her cousin.

This is maybe my favorite picture of the day. After all her guests were gone, we got her ready for bed and then let her play for a little while. She found a hat that she had received as a gift, stuck it on her head, collected her backpack and started "cooking" with her watering can.

She makes me laugh without even trying and charms us with her huge personality.

I love her.
So. Much.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dearest daughter,

Almost three years ago, our lives changed forever when we found out that you were on the way. I still remember the range of emotions I felt in those moments after I spotted that faint little pink line on my home pregnancy test. I was filled with elation, terror, anticipation and joy all in the same split second. Your daddy and I were so, so happy to be expecting you!

Your pregnancy seemed to drag on forever as I counted the days to my due date and prayed for you and your arrival. I remember I first time I felt you kick me and how special it made me feel. A special connection to you, my child, my baby, that only I could experience.

I wanted you to pick your birthday. But you were due on my birthday and I wanted so badly to share it with you! But you had other plans. Eight long days after my birthday, you let me know that it was time. It's only been two years, but I don't think I'll ever forget the moment I first laid eyes on you. Screaming and pink and all mine. Ours. You were so beautiful. Your daddy and I couldn't take our eyes off you, our beautiful, perfect baby girl. Moments after you were born we bowed our heads and thanked God for your life and for giving you to us.

When you were tiny and new, whenever I would think about how full my heart was and how very much I loved you, I couldn't hold back tears.

And it only got better. That first year of watching you grow was nothing short of amazing. You became the center of our world and we wouldn't have had it any other way. You learned to give hugs and kisses and say our names and we fell in love with you all over again.

Tomorrow you turn two. Two! Oh my darling, I don't know how that happened. Sometimes it makes me sad that you have to grow up. I want you to stay little so I can always rock you to sleep and make you feel better with one little kiss. But then I remember that I wished the same thing last year - when you turned one. And I can't imagine missing out on this wonderful year of you turning two.

Tonight I laid you in your bed and kissed you little head and wished you sweet dreams. And then I heard your little sleepy voice whisper "hold me, mommy" and I remembered that it was your last night as a one year old. So I rocked you. I rocked you and sang you your favorite songs. I rocked you until you fell asleep. And then I rocked you some more. My sweet little one year old. Tomorrow you'll be my sweet little two year old. And even though at this moment I'm not sure how, I'm sure that I'm going to love you more tomorrow than I loved you today.

Happy birthday, baby.

Love forever and always,


Monday, February 15, 2010

My favorite soup recipe

There is nothing quite like a good soup on a cold winter day. This is one of my favorite recipes ever, and definitely my favorite soup recipe. It's easy peasy, healthy and you probably have everything you need to make it right now.

Here's the thing with this soup - I've never made it the same way twice. I just use whatever veggies I happen to have on hand. My favorites are zucchini, green beans and carrots, but whatever I happen to have in the fridge or freezer is usually what gets thrown in. It's a great way to use up the last of the summer veggies lingering in the back of your freezer!

I always make mine in the crockpot - it takes about 5 minutes to toss everything in!

Veggie Meatball Soup

25 frozen meatballs (1/2 ounce each)
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
3 cups broth (I just use 3 cubes of beef bullion and 3 cups of hot water)
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups of veggies
here is where you can get creative! Some suggestions of veggies I've used in this soup: Green beans, cabbage, peas, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers...
1 cup water
2 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
fresh parsley

In your slow cooker, throw in everything but the last two ingredients. Mix it up, and cook on low for about 5 hours or until everything is nice and tender.

Stir in your elbow macaroni and parsley (just use a good handful), I've skipped parsley if I didn't have it, it's not crucial but it does give it a nice flavor...

And cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Yum!

Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

As you can see, it's super thick, almost like a stew, so it stands alone as a meal! You'll love it, I promise!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snippets from Peanut's room

When Peanut was born, we were living in a much smaller home and so she never had a nursery. We tucked a cradle alongside our bed and she probably slept in it a grand total of 2 times during the year she was in our room. When we moved into our new house last March, I was so excited to be able to decorate her new room. On a limited budget, we were able to create a room that we love! I'll admit that some of the items were a splurge, but mostly everything in her room is either handmade, re-made or was picked up from a discount store. It took us awhile to get there, but I'm so happy with how it turned out!

Wanna take a tour? I got a little snap-happy with my new camera lens...

This corner is my favorite part of her room. It's a perfect reading spot! The bookshelf is a $15 thrift store find with just a couple coats of paint. I crocheted the rag rug using this tutorial. I'd like to add a few more rounds eventually to make it bigger, but for now, it works!

I can't take credit for the cherry blossom tree! My talented sister Kelly painted it for her. I'm hoping it's something that she and the room will be able to grow with.

I ordered her crib set long before we moved into the new house from a sweet lady from Ebay who custom made the set with some material that I fell in love with. I also can not take credit for the curtains - those were courtesy of my mother-in-law, who is a very talented seamstress.

Using some old frames I had around the house and a can of white spray paint, her little photo wall came together. I need to update it already, she grows too fast, and I take too many pictures!

I picked up a dozen or so fat quarters from the fabric shop and glued them into some embroidery hoops. I can't take credit for the idea, I've seen it in dozens of places around the web!

Her name banner is one of the simplest projects I did for her room. Just a little fabric, glue, felt and ribbon and there you go!

If you want to see some truly inspired nurseries and children's rooms, visit Spearmint Baby. Even though Peanut's room is basically finished, I still visit this site just to ooooh and ahhhh over all the pretty things!

Now that she is just a couple weeks away from her 2nd birthday, we're starting to think about the transition from crib to toddler bed. Ideally, I'd like to wait until she old enough that we can just move her into a twin bed. I've decided my next big sewing project will be a quilt for her big girl bed! I've picked out the pattern, now I just need to find the perfect fabric. I've got my eye on this line, but I'm not sure it's perfect fit for her room. Obviously, I'm trying to coordinate with her tree mural. If you're a fabric freak like me, I'd love some suggestions!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Still here!

I'm still here!

While our house blanketed in nearly 2 feet of snow, I'm enjoying quiet days at home with my almost 2 year old (I can't believe it!) filling my days with crafty projects and lots of crocheting. The new newsgirl caps are in the shop and I just finished a special birthday outfit for Peanut (pictures to come, I promise!). I'm working on a photography venture with my talented sister and that's also been demanding a lot of my time. But enough excuses!

I have a few posts planned for next week to show you (in pictures!) what we've been up to. Including, but not limited too: Peanut's finished bedroom, lots and LOTS of snow and other crafty projects!

In the meantime, I'll just leave you with one of my new favorite pictures of my Peanut girl. She is the light of my life.