Fiesta like there’s no Manana: Myles turns 3!

This year we opted for a super small party complete with a taco bar, cake made out of cupcakes and margaritas for the adults. A nice little fiesta. We don’t plan on having such a small party every year, but this year it just made sense.

fiesta-3rd-birthday-invitation-hand-madeThird-birthday-chalkboard-artThe famous chalkboard we always decorate for special occasions.

taco-bar-for-fiestaThe self-serve taco bar. It was pretty darn good. I’ll be posting some of the recipes soon. The guac was addicting and I ate jimica for the first time (mexican potato).

Mason-Jar-MargaritasMargaritas in mason jars for the adults.

Myles-posingcakeBlowing out the candle on the fiesta cake made of cupcakes.

Myles-in-sombrero-eatting-cupcakeSombrero-headThis picture cracks me up. The sombrero is HUGE!

Fiesta-3 with the sombrerocheersMyles loves to cheers, so we raised our glasses (and sippy cup) to being three!

presents-3I think it’s safe to say ALL the presents were a big hit, including one of the awesome hats from Aunt Lindsey & Uncle Kael. I’m certain this hat will be featured in many more pictures to come!

opening-presents-collagepresents-2

opening presents

playingthreeJust a few family pictures… It was so nice to have Grandpa Fenno visiting from Florida.

 

family-collage

how-it-feels-to-be-3When asked if he liked his party, I got Myles’ signature dance, complete with pulling his hair. Kids are weird. Regardless of bizarre dance moves, I think we all had a good time. Happy third birthday, Myles!

**Special thanks to Skip-N-Whistle for the adorable “3″ tee and to Posh Pixels for capturing the moment. You’re not only incredibly talented, but a wonderful friend.

[Here are a few pictures from Myles' first birthday & second birthday. And if you want to know why he's going to be an only child, here's the birth story.]

On the Table: Healthy Chicken Meatballs Asian Dish

chicken-meatballs-vegetabe-dish-healthy-recipe

Not only is this recipe easy, it’s good for you and delicious! While I wouldn’t call myself a food expert, I do enjoy cooking and if I really like a recipe, I’m happy to share! This recipe takes a little over 30 minutes to make from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  • One egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of bread crumbs ( I made these by just toasting three pieces of bread and mashing it)
  • 2 TBSP of chopped cilantro
  • 2 TBSP of soy sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 TSP of sesame oil + 1 TBSP for cooking meatballs
  • 1 TBSP of ginger
  • 1 LB of ground chicken
  • 10 oz (roughly) of whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 orange or red bell pepper
  • 1 package of carrot chips (use 1 to 2 cups for recipe)
  • 1 cup of green or napa cabbage
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of cashews, crumbled

*Make this recipe even healthier by using reduced sodium chicken broth and soy sauce.

Directions:

In a large bowl combine the egg, bread crumbs, soy sauce, cilantro, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Mix it all together then add the ground chicken and mix again.

chicken-meatballs-vegetabe-dish-healthy-recipe-2

Shape the mixture into 1 to 1 1/2 inch meatballs. In a large skillet, add 1/2 TBSP of sesame oil and add the meatballs. Turn occasionally and cook the meatballs for 10-12 minutes until they’re browned on the outside and cooked throughly. Set aside once done.

Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Drain and keep warm.

In the meantime, add the chicken broth to a second skillet and bring to a boiling. Cut the pepper into thin slices and chop cabbage.

chicken-meatballs-vegetabe-dish-healthy-recipe-3

Once the broth is boiling, add the cabbage, carrot chips and sliced bell pepper. You can add more vegetables if you’d like, but I used two cups of carrot chips, sliced a large pepper and the 1 cup of cabbage.

Reduce heat and allow the vegetables to simmer for around 3-5 minutes, covered.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken broth and vegetables, chicken meatballs and spaghetti.

Garnish with chopped green onions and crumbled cashews.

*This recipe makes about four large servings. It’s delicious and I know I’ll be making this over and over again! Enjoy.

Myles’ Room Tour: From Nursery to Toddler

This showcase of my son’s room has literally been three years in the making. I’d take pictures, then something else would come up. My computer crashed in 2012 and I thought I lost everything, only to find the pictures once again on a memory stick. Regardless, I’ve been wanting to do a tour for quite sometime, so let’s get to it!

023 (2) 025 (3)The initial excitement! What to do, what color should we paint the room? We knew we were having a boy and I was pretty set on doing some sort of woodland themed room. The above photos were taken right after we primed the walls in 2010.

diy-woodland-themed-nursery-tourWe both agreed on this blue/gray color as the base coat before adding the birch trees. All of the antiqued pine furniture is IKEA from their Leksvik Collection. It seriously has been the best furniture for Myles’ room and was affordable. We moved into our house in 2009 and found out in May 2010 I was pregnant. So staying on a budget was really a priority for us because at this point, I think we were re-doing the upstairs office area and the basement at the same time. Our house was about as fun as living in a construction site at the time!

woodland-themed-toddler-roomI searched online to try and find the perfect “tree” wall decals but with no luck, we thought it’d be easier and more cost-efficient if we just painted the birch trees we had in mind. We used the same blue/gray base coat and mixed it with white to get the lighter shade.

diy-chair-cushion-for-woodland-themed-nurseryOne of our many trips to IKEA, we scored this modern wicker rocking chair that was in the “as-is” section. It had a few scratches on it, so we were able to get a nice discount. I thought it matched the decor perfectly. It didn’t come with a cushion, so I went to the local fabric store to pick up some thick foam and fabric that would match the woodland theme. The patterns for the chair were made out of brown paper bags and I more or less just winged the project. It turned out great!

tiny-clothes - Copywoodland-theme-nursery-ikea-furnitureAs mentioned earlier, I took these pictures over the course of three years, and perhaps I did lose some from when the crib was actually a crib; not a toddler bed. But here’s what Myles’ room looks like as of now – except we took the changing table piece off of the dresser.

Myles-room-details-woodland-themeI don’t want this to sound like an ad for IKEA, but we were so happy with the furniture we purchased for Myle’s room. All of the furniture we chose were pieces that could grow with him. The crib went from being raised to lowered, to a day bed to a regular little kid bed. The dresser was used as a changing table the first two years and once Myles was potty trained, the piece on the top came off so it converted to just a normal dresser. His armoire was pretty much the same way. We are still able to fit all his clothes in it – no problem! Whether or not we purchased the furniture at IKEA, I still would recommend purchasing furniture that is convertible if you’re here visiting for nursery room inspiration.

woodland-themed-toddler-room-expedit-shelfHere are a few more views of the room from different angles. The rug was on clearance at TJ Mazz for only $30. The little woodland stuffed animals my mom and dad gave to us as gifts. I remember being 9 months pregnant searching for the perfect stick to hang with the owl. In fact, I blogged about it here.

tiny-childrens-bed-from-ikeaI still love this sweet little bed. It’s so cute and for a small room, the perfect solution because it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

woodland-themed-toddler-room-wicker-chair

woodland-themed-toddler-room-small-bedI’m so glad I finally had the opportunity to put this post together and give you a peek. So many people have asked over the years what I did with the nursery because I keep trying to explain the woodland theme – but sometimes pictures are just a lot easier than words.

DIY: Make your Own Disinfecting Wipes + More!

With flu season upon us, I thought this would be a could post to re-blog. It was originally published August, 2012 for cincysavers.com and this blog. 

——————————————————————————————-

I don’t know about you but I can really go through those tubes of disinfecting wipes, which over time, can begin to add up! So when I went on my cleaning spree this past weekend, I hopped on Pinterest first to see if there were any alternative solutions or creative ideas for cleaning. I came across the idea of making your own disinfecting wipes. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, thinking the paper towels would tear, dry up or they just wouldn’t work. But, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and love using them!

Here’s how to make your own disinfecting wipes. I also provided recipes so you can create your own glass cleaner or a more natural cleaner using vinegar. I used Pine Sol because I had it and enjoy the fresh smell.

Supplies Needed:

  • Pine Sol or Vinegar (Recipes are at the bottom of this post for various types of cleaners you can create)
  • Sturdy paper towels (I choose Bounty)
  • Water
  • Glad or Ziplock Container that is large enough to fit part of a paper towel roll in ( I found the Glad Designer Bowl at Target–Two for $2.99)
  • Serrated Knife
  • Something to cut a 1/2″ hole through plastic (I used a 1/2 inch drill bit- that worked well)
  • Measuring cups
  • Bowl
DIY-disenfecting-wipes

1. Cut your paper towel role length-wise so it will fit nicely in the plastic container you’ve selected. I used a large serrated knife and it cut through the paper towels just fine!

2. Next you will need to cut a hole in the top of the plastic lid so you can easily pull the paper towels or should I say, disinfecting wipes, out. I asked my husband for a 1/2″ drill bit and used that. But because the plastic you are cutting through is so thin, I think a knife or even sharp scissors will work just as well. Just be careful and use a cutting board.

3. Mix your desired solution.

Here are several recipes you can use:

Disinfectant Cleaning Recipe (this is the one I used):

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of pine cleaning solution such as Pine Sol
  • 2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cup of water

General Cleaning Surface Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Optional: A few drops of favorite scented essential oil to cut the vinegar smell

Window Glass Cleaning Recipe:

  • 1/2 cup of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
4. Once you have the solution mixed and your paper towel roll set in the plastic container, pour the solution over the paper towels. Put the lid back on the plastic container and allow them to sit overnight.
5. Once the towels have sat overnight, then the cardboard tube in the center of the paper towel roll should easily come out (See the bottom right photo above).
6. Carefully pull the end of the paper towels from the inside, where the cardboard roll had been. Thread the end of the towels through the hole in the lid, and replace the lid.
TA DA! You now have your own homemade household cleaning wipes. As I mentioned earlier, I was a tad skeptical of this project, but am happy I tried it because 2 1/2 years later, I still refill my plastic tub on a regular basis.
Here’s a short news segment I did about the wipes from FOX 45 in Dayton: http://fox45now.com/shared/news/features/morning/stories/wkef_vid_2895.shtml
What do you think? Are you up for making your own disinfecting wipes?

[This post was originally posted August 2012.]

Review: Getting Naked with Herbal Essences’ Newest Kit

herbal-essenses-naked-kit

You may have remembered the post where I mentioned how easy it is to order this complete hair care kit from Herbal Essences from Walmart.com. As promised, it shipped and I received the kit within a few business days.

Since then I have been using the Naked Volumizing Kit and it is seriously awesome. Because I have such fine hair, I’ll take any volume I can get. As an added bonus, the minty white grapefruit smell is divine! Another wonderful thing about the kit: The cost.

For  only $12.99 you’ll get:

  • The Naked Volume Shampoo
  • The Naked Volume Conditioner
  • Volumizing Soufflé
  • Naked Volume Dry Shampoo for the days you’d like to freshen up your look without having to wash your hair.

It’s everything you need for irresistible volume.

So why the name Naked? (I know, it caught be off guard at first too) The name implies that is doesn’t have anything unnecessary in the products. There are no heavy residues, no dyes or parabens added to the shampoo or conditioner, which in turn, will restore your hair’s natural body.

Naked Volume Shampoo & Conditioner

  • Restores hair’s natural body.
  • Made with zero heavy residues, dyes, and parabens.
  • Light weight shampoo provides a clean luscious bounce.
  • Conditioner keeps hair detangled, nourished, and maintains full volume.

Naked Volume Dry Shampoo

  • Great for days when you don’t have time to wash your hair.
  • Refreshes your look for lightweight, clean hair — even on days when you don’t wash.
  • The natural tapioca formula absorbs excess oil and transforms lifeless, oily hair into fresh hair.
  • Delights senses with the crisp essence of citrus and mint.
  • How to use: Gently spray on and work into roots, brush out as desired.

Naked Volumizing Souffle

  • Weightless, volumizing styler gives you a lift for fullness that lasts.
  • Delights the senses with a boost of grapefruit and mint.
  • How to use: Gently work mousse through wet hair for volume.

Next time you are shopping for hair care products, make sure to check out this limited edition kit, sold both in Walmart stores and online. For the price, the scent and the way it works wonders for fine hair, it’s such a steal!

For more information on this kit click here.

[This blog post was sponsored by Walmart & Herbal Essences. All opinions are my own and I'd never endorse a product that didn't live up to my expectations.]

Beauty: Cold Weather Skin Care Tips

Cold-Weather-Skin-Care-tips
Winter can be detrimental to your skin. The dry, wet and cold weather we experience here in Cincinnati can easily replace that beautiful summer glow you once had with not-so-desirable dry and chapped skin.

Here are a few tips to keep your skin in tip top shape during these downright cold winter months:

Don’t think you have to wear sunscreen in winter? Think again! Even on the cloudiest days, the sun can still be damaging to your skin. This is because UVA rays can still travel through those thick clouds. UVA rays are known to be one of the most damaging things in the environment for your skin. But with applying a little sunscreen, you can protect that beautiful face of yours!

Wash your face. We have all had those days where you don’t wear any makeup, thinking you probably can skip washing your face that day. But oil and dirt will still be there, which can cause you to break out. Just think about it, all the air you have faced throughout the day has particles in it, sticking to that gorgeous face of yours.

Use Skin Care Products. They don’t have to be expensive, because after all, you’ve probably spent your limit on holiday gifts and everything else that goes along with the season. Look for active ingredients such as collagen to firm and oil and Vitamin C to refresh.

Avoid Tanning Beds. If you are looking to add a little color to your skin, consider using a spray tan. They have really advanced over the years, allowing you to get more of a sun kissed look instead of an orange glow.

Change your Moisturizer. While a certain moisturizer may work perfectly for you in the spring and summer months, it may not be as effective in the winter. As weather conditions change, so,should your moisturizer. Using an oil based moisturizer over a water based one works better in winter because the oil creates a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. Many lotions labeled as “night creams” are often oil based.

These are just a few things you can do to help take care of your skin during the winter months. But doing things such as wearing gloves and avoiding wet skin in the cold can really make a huge difference.

What about you? What do you do to protect your skin during the winter months?

New Year & a New Mindset: Letting Go

Driving on empty road towards the setting sun - 2014

Back in early December, I was invited to attend a TEDtalk for WCPO-TV and Scripps employees. It was pretty last minute, but decided to attend anyway. Besides, who couldn’t use some inspiration in their lives, right? For those of you unfamiliar with TEDx, they host events including live talks, performers, and videos to spark “Ideas Worth Sharing”. And here I am, sharing away!

That day during that TEDx talk, we watched a short clip of this guy, Graham Hill, who can literally fit all of his personal belongings into one box. It was inspiring to say the least. Being such consumer-focused world, it’s amazing to really step back and think about what is really necessary in order to live and be happy. Something just clicked and as soon as I got home that afternoon, I went to lifeedited.com and learned more about the concept, lifestyle and ways I could incorporate these ideas into my family and everyday life.

The general idea:

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

It seems like something that is fairly simple. It’s just one sentence. But watching Graham Hill, who has just one box that included all his belongings  just really moved me. I felt so inspired. To be so free, and not tied down to everyday “stuff” has to feel so liberating.

Overall,  I consider us a pretty clutter-free  & tidy family. But when you work full time and have a young child, things do tend to get overlooked. It made me start questioning some things.  Do I really need to hold onto every note I passed in high school – even if they’re organized & stored away in a closet rarely ever opened and out of the way? Do I really need to keep every cute outfit my son every wore?  I then asked myself, if I could just live with one box of belongings, what would be in it?

In no means do I intend on putting all my favorite things into one box and call it a day, but I was inspired to see what it felt like to live with just your favorite items and all the unnecessary. Let me just say, I’m only about half way there and it feels amazing.

I believe everything in life happens for a reason. A week after I was inspired to go through boxes of keepsakes and things stored away we no longer use, our basement couldn’t  handle a pretty significant rain storm and forced us to really get rid of a lot of things. While most people would look at this as tragic, I looked at it as a blessing. Our neighbors probably thought we were being evicted, but most anything I could donate, I did. Sentimental items like stuff animals from our childhood, we took a picture of before discarding them. It was hard. We went thought a lot of things we weren’t sure what to do with; but kept telling ourselves that we can live without all the extra”stuff”. As long as we had pictures and fond memories, that’s all we really need.

From there, we’ve been moving from room to room with a fine tooth comb; really evaluating the need for literally every single item we own. The things we didn’t want- we put into piles to sort later. From there, we decided if it was something we could sell (i.e: most of our sons outgrown clothing went to Once Upon a Child. And if it wasn’t something we could sell, we offered it to others who might have a need for it (like the old car seat and bases). The rest was donated.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we need all these belongings to make us feel happy, when in fact, it does the opposite. It drags you down. Of course that isn’t the case for all of us, but for most.

So for this new year, I’m learning to let go. And as I continue on my journey, this saying is a nice reminder and can be applied to many aspects of life:

tumblr_ls97y1x9NY1qhmhdfo1_500[image source]

Here’s the video I watched that I hope will inspire you just as much as it did me. Less really does equal more.

 Cheers to the New Year!

Local: A Stylist for the Rest of Us

dressed-up-and-down-cincinnatiWe’re less than a week away from the New Year, the time when we like to reflect on the previous 12 months and focus on positive changes for the next.

There’s always the traditional resolution of losing weight and feeling better, but what about dressing better?  That’s where local Marisa Gouda and Dressed Up + Down comes in.

Read the rest of this story I wrote for WCPO.com, here.

{CLOSED} $50 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway!

Thanks to Herbal Essences, you can enter below to win a $50 gift card to Walmart to use online or in store. I’d just suggest one of the first things you pick up with the gift card is the Herbal Essences Naked Volume Kit. For only $12.99, the kit includes Naked Volume Shampoo, Conditioner, Volumizing Soufflé Styler, and Dry Shampoo. If you think about the value of purchasing a kit, it just makes sense. Each full-sized product is a little over $3.00 each, which is really a great deal!

Currently the kit is only available online, but you can always have it shipped to your favorite Walmart location for free! It literally took me less than five minutes.


So why the name Naked?

The products in the Herbal Essences Naked Volume Kit are made with zero heavy residues, dyes, and parabens; which helps restore your natural volume. The kit includes a lightweight shampoo and nourishing conditioner. Plus, the Naked Volume dry shampoo is perfect for days you don’t have time to wash your hair thanks to the natural tapioca formula that’ll transform lifeless hair. Let’s not forget about the Naked Volumizing souffle. This weightless volumizing styler gives you a lift for fullness that lasts.

Ready to try out the kit for yourself? Enter to win a $50.00 Walmart gift card below, thanks to Herbal Essences. This giveaway ends on Thursday, December 26th at midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thanks to Herbal Essences for supplying the $50 Walmart Gift Card.

Good luck! One winner will be chosen at random on Friday, December 27th. The giveaway ends on Thursday, December 26th at midnight.

Congrats to Lindsey M. for winning the $50 gift card! 

DIY: Super Easy & Creative Gift Wrap

diy-gift-wrapIn preparation for the new year and well…just in general, I’ve been trying to live with less. I went through drawers of fabric from college that I’ve moved around the country with me. I found stamps from when I taught stamping classes at Michael’s Arts & Crafts…twine from this lantern

The list goes on. Anyway, I saw something online in passing about wrapping presents in festive fabric. Sparking my imagination, I purchased a $1 ornament stamp at Michael’s, used white fabric I’ve been holding onto from my senior collection in college (2006) and used one of the silver stamp pads I had.

diy-stamped-gift-wrap-ideaAfter laying out the present, I cut the fabric as you would wrapping paper. Starting in the top left corner, I stamped ornaments all the way down and repeated the process until the entire piece of white fabric was covered; re-inking my stamp every third time or so.

Using the left over twine, I tied it around the present just as you would ribbon. It wasn’t too hard to tape fabric, plus you can use your new fabric wrap over and over again!

This really got me thinking about what else I could use for gift wrap. I’ve seen some pretty cool ideas on Pinterest!

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