Sam’s Birthday Party

Sam’s birthday party.  It ended up being quite a bit of work and planning but turned out great!  Everyone seemed to have fun and there were no major catastrophes.  My grandparents came into town (from Florida) a week before the party and my parents came into town (also from Florida) a few days before.  Most of the food prep was done the day before the party by my mom and grandma.  For the food, we had pasta salad (this one), regular salad, fruit kabobs, veggies and dip and tabouli (courtesy of my in-laws), and burgers and hot dogs plus veggie burgers and vegan hot dogs for our vegan friends.

I didn’t take any pictures of the actual party at all!  My friend Gina took some and is going to send them over.  In the meantime… all I have are pictures of the desserts.

Sam was not into the cupcake we gave him at all.  People started singing happy birthday to him and he started crying hysterically and wouldn’t even try the cupcake.  Poor kid.  He relaxed after and played in the grass and then really got into opening the presents.  He now has TONS of toys. Tons.

We had lots of desserts.  I’m still eating the cupcakes (we froze the leftovers after the party).


My grandma came over a few days before the party and helped me make the chocolate chip cookies and the thumbprints and they went into the freezer until the party.  I made the sugar cookie star toppers a few days before the party too.  It was good practice to make a million little stars and decorate with royal icing.  I really want to get good at making decorated cookies.  The S cookies and the little tulips were made a few days before the party too.


The day right before the party, I made the vanilla and chocolate cupcakes and left them unfrosted until the morning of the party.  I would have probably frosted them the day before too but we had no room in the fridge for them.  I made vanilla cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes which I loved.  It was a recipe from Glorious Treats.  Here’s a link to it.  Lastly, the brownies were a mix!   They were vegan and gluten-free because we had some vegan friends coming and some gluten intolerant friends and I didn’t want them to be dessert-less.  It’s a Trader Joe’s gluten free mix that is actually really good.  I replaced the egg with a flax egg (flaxseed meal + water) to make them vegan.20130803_111246


I made the little flags for the brownies out of toothpicks and washi tape.  I’m newly obsessed with washi tape.  It’s awesome.  I made little flags for the straws too.

I wish I had pictures to post of the actual party.  Sigh.  But here are a couple of Sam with some of his gifts.



Two Things


Sam stopped taking two naps a day.  We’re officially down to just one.  After fighting with him for the last week to take a second nap (and being mostly unsuccessful), I gave in and we switched to one for good today.  It went surprisingly well.  He woke up at 7 this morning, had breakfast at 8 and then we headed out to the grocery store around 930.  Normally he would be going down for a nap around 10 but I was trying to push it back a bit.  We managed to push the nap back until 11, he went down without a peep and then slept for TWO HOURS.  This is unheard of from the little anti-napper.  His naps were not bad before but they’ve never really gone that long, ever.  (His naps were bad up until about 7 months.  Like never longer than 30 minutes.  Bad.)

This was yesterday after nap #2 fail.


So he woke up at about 1 and he had lunch immediately.  After that, we hung out around the house and played for a while.  At about 315, we headed out in the stroller to mail things and return library books and then we strolled over to the farmer’s market.  I put shoes on Sam, got him out of the stroller and we WALKED around the market together.  He loved it.  He squealed and smiled at everyone.  Got some produce and a dozen eggs then headed back home.  It’s so fun to be able to hold Sam’s hand and actually walk around places.  Now that he’s officially walking, I need to get him a good pair of shoes.  He has baby Keen’s but they’re on the verge of being too small now and I just don’t think they ever really fit his foot very well.  He has little kid Chuck Taylor high tops which he wore today but they’re kind of difficult to get on plus he likes to untie them.  I’m going to check out Stride Rite because I hear they will measure his foot and I’m thinking his feet are a little on the wide side.  Anyway, Sam made it all the way from 1 pm until bed at exactly 7 pm and went to sleep with no fuss.  Success.


My dad and grandpa installed a new light outside of our side door while they were here.  I love it.


Our Experience with Cloth Diapering

I’ve talked about cloth diapering a bit on the blog and the brands I have but now I’m going to elaborate a bit more.

I really didn’t do much research at all before ordering the diapers.  I probably should have read more and maybe checked them out in a store before I went ahead and ordered a bunch but I didn’t do that.  I read some blog posts of other mother’s opinions and kind of just went with it.  Most of the blogs that I read use all-in-ones which have the insert attached to the cover. Basically, everything is one piece and you just remove the whole thing and wash it every time it gets dirty.  Bum Genius seems to be the popular brand for these.  I didn’t end up buying any of the all-in-ones.  I read that they take a long time to dry and honestly… I didn’t have much idea of what I was ordering when I did.

When I was about 6 months pregnant, I ordered a Fuzzibunz diaper, a Bum Genius and a Charlie Banana.  They all are the Two-in-Ones.  They have the outer piece with a pocket and come with two inserts each.  You stuff the insert into the pocket of the diaper and then when the diapers dirty, you remove the insert but still wash both parts each time.

I’m not going to talk about pre-folds because I have no experience at all with them but I do know a few people that used them when their babies were infants and really liked them.  I didn’t start using cloth until Sam was about 3 months or so.  We used disposables (Pampers Swaddlers) until then.  All three brands I have are very comparable price wise — about $15-$20 per diaper.

When I originally started writing this post …6 months ago… I was all for the Charlie Banana diapers.  They were my favorites.  They fit the best and seemed to absorb the best.  Now Sam is 1 and I think I like the Bum Genius diapers better.  The Charlie Bananas seem like they’re getting a bit small for him (he’s probably about 24 lbs).  We’re still using all the Charlie Bananas but I’ve had some issues with leaking.  I stopped using the Fuzzibunz diaper all together because it just seems too tight.

Here’s the pro/con breakdown:

Fuzzibunz Elite Reusable




  • They don’t seem to stain at all.  These diapers have stayed whiter than the other two brands for me.
  • They’re soft and seem pretty comfortable if they fit.
  • Holding up well to washing almost daily.


  • They’re more difficult to stuff than the Bum Genius and Charlie Banana.  The outer layer is stickier and it makes it harder to get the insert into it.
  • There is no flap over the pocket where you stuff the insert so the elastic part is touching his back which seems kind of uncomfortable and it flips out when you put it on.
  • Might not fit as long as the BMs and CBs because it has a smaller cut.  I almost never use the one Fuzzibunz diaper I have now because it’s too tight for Sam
  • Once I adjusted the leg opening elastic to the largest setting, the little metal part cannot be tucked into the diaper and is now touching Sam’s skin directly.

bumGenuis 4.0 Snap




  • Cute colors
  • Only two snaps on each side so easier to put on.
  • Generous size that will fit Sam for a long time
  • The large insert seems to absorb better than the other two brands
  • Holding up to tons of washing very well


  • They seem HUGE on small babies.
  • The infant insert is so thin, it’s pretty useless
  • Stains more than Fuzzibunz
  • No adjustable leg opening

Charlie Banana Reusable One-Size

$99.99 for a 6 pack at Target (as of 8/13/13)

cb diaps


  • Lots of great colors and designs
  • Easy to find (they sell them in my Target store!)
  • Very soft and seem comfortable for Sam
  • Not quite as bulky as Bum Genius
  • Easy to adjust the leg opening size


  • We’re now having some leak issues
  • They seem to be getting a little tight though I am going to start maybe only snapping 2 of the 3 snaps on each side to see how that works
  • Stain more than Fuzzibunz

Other cloth diaper products we use:

For laundry detergent, I use Charlie’s Soap that I order from Amazon.  I also use Bac-Out Stain and Odor Eliminator to spray the diapers before putting them in our wet bag if they’re really dirty.

Lastly, and this is key once babies start eating solids, we use disposable diaper liners every time.  I buy the GroVia Bioliners from Amazon.  They’re flushable but we just throw them away.

And that’s the cloth diaper post.  We’ve been using them for 9 months now.  It sounds pretty complicated and time consuming but it’s really not and we save lots of money using them!  Also, it’s not an all or nothing kind of thing.  We use disposables overnight (Huggies overnites) and disposables when we go out (just switched from Pampers Cruisers to Luvs and I’m very happy with the Luvs and so much cheaper!)  We do feel that even using the cloth about 60% of the time is definitely worth it to us for both less waste and saving money.

Sam is ONE!

Sam turned one on August 5th!  We had a big party at our house in the backyard/deck.  He also started walking pretty much on his birthday and is now, I would say, walking more than crawling.  He’s generally a very happy boy who is always on the move.  I wanted to write a post about him so I can remember what’s going on with him at 1 year old.



balls, his stuffed panda, when Aaron comes home from work, being chased, climbing up and down steps repeatedly while holding someone’s hand, walking in circles while holding someone’s hand, peek-a-boo, reading books, drinking water out of glasses, picking up dirt and sticks, going to the park, looking at other kids, wheels of any kind, climbing anything, knocking down block towers that Aaron builds


diaper changes, afternoon nap, being in the car for more than 20 minutes, hearing noises and not knowing where they are coming from, loud music, the jumperoo

Food Likes:

peas, sweet potatoes with coconut oil, BREAD, PUFFS, (any grainy, carby food), watermelon, strawberries, hummus, turkey meatballs, trader joe’s vegetable masala burgers, broccoli, scrambled eggs, lettuce..

Food Dislikes:

yogurt, beans, cantaloupe, shrimp, avocado, corn, white potatoes


size 24 month onesies and footie pajamas, size 12-18 month pants & shirts, size 5 but almost size 6 shoes


Goes to sleep anywhere from 7-8pm (depending on last nap time) and sleeps until 5 AM.  Nurses at 5AM then back to bed until 6:30-7.  Taking 2 naps, one around 10 AM and one around 3:30PM.  One usually lasts an hour and 15 minutes and the other is about 40 minutes though I think he’s on the verge of dropping to one nap.  (Just took one today. boo)


1 word…ball.  He says Ball to everything that is round.  Actual balls, watermelons, cantaloupes, balloons, etc.

Random Things:

He’s pointing at things and waving goodbye occasionally.  Lots of clapping when he’s happy or when other people clap or when he hands you something.  Makes engine sounds when he’s pushing toy trucks around.


He’s still nursing 4 times a day — 5am, before first nap, before second nap, before bed.  He’s eating three meals a day in the high chair with generally no snacks because the nursing times are his snacks.  Hoping to begin the weaning process soonish though I’m hoping it happens naturally.

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Shrimp Fried Rice

fried rice

Last night we had shrimp fried rice for dinner.  I’ve been making this pretty frequently whenever I can find uncooked Argentine shrimp at Trader Joe’s.  They’re good!  Try them out if you shop at Trader Joe’s.  Another item I use from Trader Joe’s for the fried rice is their soyaki sauce.  I used the island soyaki here but I’ve used the regular stuff too.  I’ve also definitely seen this sold at other grocery stores.  Same bottle shape with just a different label but it’s still called soyaki.

The actual cooking part of this recipe is quick – maybe 15 minutes.  I chopped the carrots and onions and cooked the rice earlier in the day and then just cooked everything together for dinner.


Shrimp Fried Rice (or chicken or tofu)

Servings: 6 

  • 3-4 cups cooked rice
  • 2-3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp (no shell or tail) or chicken or tofu
  • 4-5 carrots peeled and chopped small
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2-4 Tbsp soyaki
  • 1-2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Heat a large pan or wok over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon canola oil.  Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute on each side (You want them to be about 90% cooked through).  Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.  Mix up the eggs in a bowl and then add them to the pan and scramble until about 90% cooked.  Remove them from the pan and set aside.  Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the carrots and onions.  Cook for about 5-8 minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots are softened.  Add the peas and cook another few minutes.  Add the shrimp and egg back into the pan as well as the rice, soyaki, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Cook everything for a minute or two until hot.  Add soyaki to taste and serve.

sam and aaron

It’s been a few months… Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

My picture a day posts ended abruptly…  I probably still take at least one picture a day but I had blogging burnout.  I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog and started searching for domain names but I haven’t decided if I want to do that yet.  I’m just kind of sick of this domain name..  Maybe I’ll stick with it though.

I’ve been wanting to start posting our dinner meals and links to the recipes on here because it’ll help me remember the things that we liked and also maybe people will like to get some easy meal ideas too.

Tonight we had split pea soup.  I usually make a pot of soup in the crock pot once a week.  It’s nice to have dinner prep done in the morning plus it usually makes a TON of leftovers which we all eat the next day for lunch. Sam too, unless it’s too spicy.  This recipe is based off of an recipe.  It’s supposed to be vegan but I un-veganed it by using chicken broth.  Here’s the original recipe.


Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Servings: 8-10


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 cups dried split peas
  • 1/2 cup barley (if using quick cook barley like I did, add for last 15-20 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 to 4.5 hours.

Easy and we all liked it!  And now we have two large containers of leftovers.  Win.


Project 365: Day 41 – 59

I’m getting pretty far behind on the project 365 posts.  As I continue to get farther and farther behind, it becomes more difficult to get myself to get started on a post.  Aaron is at band practice tonight though and the baby is sleeping and I’ve run out of episodes of Revenge to watch so here we go.

Day 41

2013-02-10 18.40.57Aaron finished the door trim on the kitchen door.  Yay!

Day 42

2013-02-11 11.05.00We took a family walk because the weather was okay!  This was February 11th I believe, so rare nice weather in Pittsburgh.  Unlike today, March 18th, freezing rain!?  Also, Sam doesn’t like the stroller now..  no good.  Whenever I take him anywhere, he’s in the Ergo now.

Day 43

2013-02-12 14.41.31

Sam’s first time in a shopping cart!  Home Depot trip.

Day 44

2013-02-13 13.00.37We installed new lights in the kitchen and dining room.  Prior to that light in the kitchen, there was just a dangling bulb hanging from it’s wire.  Upgrade.  Prior to the dangling bulb, there was a square fluorescent light with water in it that leaked from the tub. Fire hazard.

Day 45

2013-02-14 08.49.24

Valentine’s Day and Aaron’s birthday! 32!  Sam’s gift to Aaron was a picture of himself for Aaron’s new office.  I got Aaron a paint brush(!) and a new travel coffee mug.  We kept gifts small because we have plans of buying a bigger “family gift” in the Summer.

Day 46

2013-02-15 20.49.43Working on painting the dining room here.  We painted it Ice Rink by Martha Stewart.  We used the same color in the kitchen of our old house and I LOVED it there.  We painted the kitchen and dining room in this house that color.

Day 47

2013-02-16 14.51.29Sleeping boy.  He sleeps in his new car seat much better than the smaller one it seems.  Plus we finally bought one of those mirrors so we can see him while driving.  It was definitely, definitely worth it.  I wish we would have bought one right from the start.

Day 48

2013-02-17 12.20.23I’ve been putting Sam in the Moby again when I’m cleaning up the house.  He really likes it and it’s still comfortable for me even though he’s almost 20 pounds.  I had packed it away because I thought he was too big but now it’s back.

Day 49

2013-02-18 12.21.32Aaron and I took Sam to a Gymboree class during one of the days of Aaron’s 2 week work hiatus.

Day 50

Missing! forgot to take a picture…

Day 51

2013-02-20 08.50.40I started writing a post about cloth diapers and took this picture for that.  I have to finish up that post.  But there they are (12 of the 15).

Day 52

2013-02-21 17.25.15Knitting was going strong in February and then kind of died off in March.  I still haven’t finished this scarf.

Day 53


Day 54

2013-02-23 00.29.02Wedding!  This was the first night we left Sam with Aaron’s parents to put him to bed.  It turned out well!  And it was good to get away from the baby for a little while.  Even if I had to pump in the car between the ceremony and the reception.

Day 55

2013-02-24 13.14.18On our way to Cincinnati for Aaron’s new job training.  5 hour car right with the baby went surprisingly well.  Sleeping in a hotel room with a baby definitely did not.

Day 56

2013-02-25 11.16.39Sam and I tracked down Trader Joe’s by our hotel and bought supplies for the week.

Day 57

2013-02-26 13.28.45We went to the Children’t Museum in Cincinnati the next day.  Sam was pretty much too young to really do anything there but we wandered around and looked at things.  Something to do.

Day 58

2013-02-27 12.16.40The next day, we went to a thrift store.  It was the most amazing thrift store I’ve ever been to.  It was HUGE and so cheap.  Like each of those books above cost 9 cents!  I also got those two jackets for Sam.  Baby Gap down coat for $4.  I love thrift stores.

Day 59

2013-02-28 16.14.46We spent a lot of time hanging out in the hotel lobby people watching.  There was a power lifting conference going on in the hotel while we were there.

That brings me to March!