05 March 2014

This blog has MOVED!

1056 posts and I finally decided it needed an upgrade.  Come follow me at www.susanfowler.net -- it's much prettier over there!  All the content has been moved over, so you won't be missing anything.  Plus, I have a lot of cool new posts & things you'll love to pin on Pinterest!

03 February 2014

Memory Box

One thing that I wanted to make sure of was to keep special memories from Hazelnut's childhood.  Not every memory, but certain ones that stick out.  I also know my limits, and that creating scrapbook pages by hand every month is just not going to happen. So once a year I make a family photo book (more about that on a future date) in a coffee table style book.  I also keep another photo album with 4x6 prints.  Why?  Because when she's in kindergarten & needs to bring a picture of her as a baby, I don't want to be pulling out external hard drives looking for the pictures, then running to Wal-Mart at midnight to pick up the prints.

I digress.

But some things just can't be stored in a flat album or fit into a 4x6 sleeve.  For those, I have this box.


Someone gave it to us for a baby shower gift, and it's been very useful!

I've majorly slacked off on things to put in there after her first birthday.  So many big things happen in that first year-- hospital bracelets, birth announcements, first visit to Santa, birthday cards, cake smash session... the list goes on & on!  I also saved handwritten notes, and the little foam letters you see on the left- H F.  Those were in a gift bag from a breastfeeding group I went to.  They're not really useful, except that they are a vivid reminder of what life was like during those first 10 months of working so hard to nurse.  Looking at those letters brings it all back like a tidal wave.

But one problem--- nothing else fits!  Luckily, one of her birthday gifts this year gave in this cute box.  It's very sturdy & perfect for the job!  

How do you keep track of memories?  Do you put too much pressure on yourself for not doing it enough?  I seriously love the memory box because it's so low pressure.  Just toss the memory in & you're done!

I also have one full of love notes & cards from when Josh & I were dating.  We should have kept it up through marriage but life got a bit busy.  I love looking back on those notes!

30 January 2014

Tex Mex Minestrone Soup

A few years ago I wrote about a cheap, quick, and easy crowd-pleaser recipe: Tex Mex Minestrone Soup.  Over the years, I've changed & perfected it to my liking, so I thought it would be great to post the new ideas.  Last year I made a triple batch for a large group of friends coming over & they loved it!  Not to mention it took me about 30 minutes to cook for 16 people, most of which was letting the soup simmer over low heat!

Tex Mex Minestrone Soup

 Basic Ingredients:

-Half a box of pasta noodles. Smaller is better, so macaroni & rotini are your friends.  I've also used penne.  It's a bit bigger, but still works.

-1 jar of salsa.  Regular mild is my favorite, but you can use medium or hot if you like it hotter.  With mild you can always add hot sauce to taste.

-1 can of black beans.  Yep, let all the juice in there, too!

-3 cups of water.  Sometimes I add more if the noodles soak up a lot of it.


Make the pasta as directed.  Then mix all the ingredients in one pot & bring it to boiling.  Then simmer for about 20 minutes (longer definitely doesn't hurt, but 20 gets everything soaked in well).

Ta-da!  $4 and you've fed a family of 4.

Now, the great thing about this recipe is that you can add just about anything you want in.  I love to put some cheese on top once it's served.  Last week we tried it with a pound of ground beef.  Talk about hearty!  Beans give my daughter a diaper rash so I make a small pot without beans for her.

It's also easy to double, triple, etc.  I tend to buy the large jug of salsa that has the handle like a milk jug!  It's the kind of recipe you smell when you walk in the front door & my husband always gets excited.  It's so nice to have a quick, easy, & cheap recipe that everyone gets excited over!  Let me know how your family likes it!

28 January 2014

Minnie Mouse Birthday Party

I was so busy planning the Pink & Chevron Baby Shower for one of my best friends that I nearly forgot about Hazelnut's Minnie Mouse Party!

My amazing friend Devin made the cake again!  She made the fabulous cake from Hazelnut's Little Miss Sunshine party last year.

In the background you can see the banner I made, and on the right another sign.  I got these free printables here & just added my own text!  It's also where I got her invitation from.  So simple!

For food, we got Chick-fil-A!  Let me tell you, there is nothing easier, and nothing more enjoyed by party guests!  I live about 15 minutes from my preferred Chick-fil-A (Patrick Henry Mall!) so I opted to get a reheatable nugget tray and reheat it at my house rather than try to juggle picking up food & keeping it warm for guests to arrive.  Much easier just to throw it in the oven, and they reheated perfectly!

We also had CFA Chicken Salad Sandwiches, fruit, and Sweet Tea!  Then I used my friend's punch recipe.  A 2 liter of ginger ale, a bottle of sparkling grape juice, and frozen fruit on top.  It's pretty, the fruit keeps it cold, and it's sooo simple.  It's a definite crowd pleaser!  Mine was a little foamy-- it probably wouldn't be if I hadn't of dumped everything in so quickly.

For favors I had some bags from a rainbow birthday party I thought I was going to throw last year, but changed my mind.  I thought about getting pink favor bags, but then felt a little bad for the guys at the party, so went with these since I already had them.  Did they match?  No.  Do I care? Not really.

I put candy in all, and then headbands & necklaces for the girls & play-doh & extra candy for the guys.

For decorations I got this decor kit from Amazon.  It was $7 and perfect.  

Another look at the decor from the night before.

 My main thought with adding the decor set from Amazon was that she's two years old, and very visual.  Seeing Minnie Mouse all over her house made her a happy little girl, and isn't that what a birthday party is all about?

One more look at that cake... oh I just love it so much!  Ombre pink Minnie Mouse birthday cake... what could be better?  It was delicious!

27 January 2014

2nd Birthday Party (& Video!)

Birthday party fun here on the blog today!  Tomorrow I'll have more about the details, but today we have a video!  A year ago when Josh picked up videography again I was a little weary.  Was he in this for the long haul or just a passing hobby?  It was quite an expensive endeavor, but I'm so glad we did it!  Now we have a great added bonus of using that equipment to document our lives.  It's a quick video- 2 minutes- just enough to give you a taste & it's full of sweetness.  Warning: You'll hear potentially the worst "Happy Birthday" singing on the planet.  The bad news: we started in a funny key.  The good news: we're well rounded & hit every key through the course of the song!  lol

And a few pictures from the party:

Our baby girl was TOTALLY exhausted.

But if there's cake to be had, who is she to say no?

Pure sweetness.  I love these two!

We've hit that age where sometimes you just turn a blind eye because, well, it is her birthday after all.  Here she is with her buddy who is 10 days younger than her-- eating as many Hershey Kisses as they can stuff in their mouths!

Ahh childhood.  It was a wonderful (& totally crazy house-packed) party.  We loved it & I think she did, too!

Related Posts with Thumbnails