My Top Ten

Monday, October 31, 2011

the Making of a Whimsical Owl Birthday Party

I don't usually throw myself so diligently (or creatively) into party decorum preparations, but if ever there were an appropriate time in my life - it must be the 1st birthday of my baby girl! I decided on a whimsical owl birthday party theme. I have been in love with Pottery Barn's whimsical owl/woodland theme since they first introduced it, so it was the obvious choice.

Whimsical Owl invitations, hand made with love. FYI - googly eyes cost more to mail. And yes, that is their official name "googly eyes". 

I always throw myself whole heartedly into the menu planning and food preparation. Eden's party was at lunch time, so we served a meal. The menu consisted of: white turkey chili, fried sausages with bell peppers over rice, pumpkin muffins, chips with homemade salsa, a grape & banana fruit salad and warm apple cider. There was some marveling going on at the white turkey chili, so I will leave you with that recipe for the upcoming chilly winter nights. Marveling, as in, what ingredients classify chili as "white"?

White Chili
In deep pot, brown 1 lb ground turkey meat
Add 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced 
Add 1 tsp each; parsley & garlic
Add 1 can white canelli beans
Add 1.5  cups sweet frozen corn
Add 1 can green chiles
Add 1 box vegetable or chicken broth (i used veggie)
Add 1 bay leaf
Add 1 cup or more of FRESH cilantro, finely chopped stems and all. Don't be afraid of the stems, they have great flavor.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer a good 20 minutes or so before eating.

Following are some close-ups of party decor:
Paper towel star art idea found at Wound Up Mom. By the way, this is my amazing cousin Annie's blog and she is full of creative goodness!

Mini pennant banner idea as seen on baby ben's 1st birthday cake at meg + andy; who are sure to inspire anyone with the slightest twinge of craftiness in their being.

The "dimensional hanging photo tulle" was Garrett's brillant idea. I used mini rolls of tulle from the craft store, cut three strips the same length, safety pinned them together at the top, and then safety pinned pictures on the vertical strips. I scotch taped them to the ceiling and it held just fine.

I wanted to hang a "curtain" of tulle as the main backdrop and it turned out exactly as I was envisioning. I hole punched the tulle, strung it with satin pink ribbon and gathered it to create the curtain effect. We hung by drilling into our cieling and slip-knotting the satin ribbon around the screws so it was flush to the cieling. And when I say I or we here, I really mean Garrett :-) He really delivered on the whole curtain thing. My only recommendation for anyone who wants to do a similar tulle curtain, would be to use several layers of tulle so it isn't so sheer and see-through. FYI - That was 3 yards of sparkle tulle used for Eden's tulle "curtain"spread across about 6 feet of length.  

the adorable {and delicious}Whimsical Owl cake, made by my talented friend Paula

I saved the best for last, the birthday girl herself with her very own zucchini cake, daloped with organic vanilla yogurt. I have made this recipe several times over as muffins, so Eden was familiar with this food and enjoyed her cake. Familiarity is a baby's friend. Notice her super cute high chair cover, it was made with love by her grandma!

As if this post isn't long enough, below are some picture of Eden....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eden is One!

Today, one year ago Eden entered this world. In honor of her birthday, I would like to share the story of her birth. I am natural childbirth advocate and have educated myself extensively on the subject. My husband is a huge supporter, and I firmly believe that is a crucial component to any woman who wants to birth naturally. I could go on and on about this subject, but that's not the objective of today's post. Today, I want to take time to remember Eden, and her first year. I want to savor each little memory of her first year, because this year passed altogether too quickly. She is a gift of love from our Heavenly Father, and I do dote on her.

She's cute even when she is crying!

My Delivery of Eden

It was October 25, 2010 at 3:33 a.m. I was awakened by an intense contraction, which immediately required me to wake up and get with it mentally. I had trained myself for this moment, but it was a long time coming. Eden's "due date" was October 10, and I had been waiting 2 weeks for this day arrive! I had experieinced several bouts of Braxton Hicks contractions over the previous 2 weeks, but this contraction was markedly different. I knew it was labor. I lay in bed, on my left side, using my mental relaxation techniques to allow my body to work (for that is precisely what labor is, a work of love. And we all know real work is never easy, but the end result always feels so good). After about 20 minutes of laying down, I got up to use the bathroom. Upon returning to bed, my next 2 contractions were extremely intense. I was using all of my energy to focus on staying calm, breathing and working with the contractions, not against them. At this point, in between contractions, I woke my husband, Garrett. In retrospect, I think the crazy intense contractions were my transition. I tried to lay there a few minutes longer, but it felt uncomfortable to lay down. I got up and wanted to let gravity work. I went back to the bathroom again. I sat down and my water broke on the toilet (that was convenient!). It was go time. Garrett immediately called our midwife, Jessica. Garrett drew a warm bath and I climbed in. I tried to relax and keep my body from delivering a baby without a midwife present.  I knew Eden was coming out too fast, so I was lying on my side to try to slow the process down. I was trying not to push, but at a certain point it just can't be helped. From the time Garrett called Jessica until she walked in our front door was 17 minutes. Eden was born 5 minutes later. It was a one hour and 28 minute labor, and we were both exhausted afterward.

 Background: Eden was my second baby I delivered naturally. My husband and I took a 12 week training course in the Bradley Method before our son was born, and took the teacher's training course for the Bradley Method before Eden's birth. This knowledge & training was imperative for me to bring our babies into the world naturally. I experienced no complications in either pregnancy or delivery. Both times I delivered with a midwife; the first time in a hospital, the second time at home. I will never deliver in a hospital again. I understand that hospitals save lives, but more often than not they get in the way of letting the woman do what she was made to do - deliver her baby, naturally. I relish in the fact that I was able to deliver & begin recovery in the comfort of my own home.

Papa cutting the cord

Our midwife weighing her - she was 7 lbs 9 oz

about 10 hours old

2 weeks old - photo by Shanks Photography

2 weeks old - photo by Shanks Photography

2 weeks old - photo by Shanks Photography

2 months - Eden's First Christmas!

4 months

This was the first time she rolled over; as soon as I put the camera down, naturally.

 7 months - Uncle Austin's Graduation Day

10 months

12 months

Happy 1st Birthday Eden Solveig!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Make your own Dishwasher Detergent

This truly all natural dishwashing detergent is super easy to make, cheap and it works!
Three ingredients stand between you and a Green Clean:
                                      1) Borax
                                      2) Super Washing Soda
                                      3) White Vinegar

What you do:
Borax + Super Washing Soda = 1:1 ratio

Find a suitable storage container, and mix equal parts of Borax and Super Washing Soda. Be sure to pour them in simultaneously or at least mix the powder well so as to blend or homogenize the mixture, so to speak. When your dishwasher is full, reach for your handy dandy container and scoop 1 tablespoon of the powder detergent into the Pre-wash spot and 1 tablespoon of detergent into the Main Wash spot. 

Pour the white vinegar into your Rinse Aid spot. I have found this step is curcial in procuring a good clean, don't skip the vinegar rinse!

I purchased all three items at Wal Mart, they should be readily available at your local grocer as well.

Disclaimer: My dishwasher is OLD. It doesn't clean, it sanitizes. Let me translate that for you; I have to completely rinse all of my dishes before placing them in my dishwasher. If you have a new-fangled dishwasher and you leave yesterday's oatmeal and lasagna glued onto your plates, I am interested in what the results might be. If someone tries it, I would love the feedback!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hats off to Chipotle

Garrett and I recently enjoyed some adult time as we went to see the movie Contagion, but the best part of my night wasn't the movie. Although the movie was extremely entertaining, and pleasantly clean; meaning minimal language, no crude humor, no nudity or sex scenes, no bloody violence, and so the Hollywood list goes wasn't Contagion that I wanted to give a standing ovation. (And I have done that in the past at Lord of the Rings, the Twin Towers. I cheered aloud when Eowyn took off her helmet, her long hair fell, and she said "I'm no man" and cut off Sauron's head!!! Best Movie Moment EVER. Ok, I am definitely sidetracked here...sorry.) It was Chipotle's short film 'Back to the Start' which promotes supporting local farmers by eating locally grown food. It is brilliant, brilliant I tell you! In 2:20 it shows the story of why it is so important to eat real food, and the negative affects big box production food companies have on society, humans and animals. Well done, Chipotle, well done.