Woodland Critters 1st Birthday Party

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We celebrated our little dude turning one recently with both sides of our family in town. I knew that I wanted to do a woodland / forest animal theme and fell down a Pinterest rabbit hole. I ordered the most adorable invites and a matching t shirt for the birthday boy from Zazzle and got some sweet foil balloons that were a fox, a raccoon and a hedgehog.
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I knew we’d be hosting guests so I made a 5 layer chocolate cake (and a smaller smash cake) with chocolate buttercream and a half batch of yellow cupcakes with bright red buttercream and froze everything double wrapped in plastic two weeks ahead of time. That way, the day before the party, I just had to defrost everything (leave the cakes in the plastic until completely defrosted!) and decorate.
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Our niece helped me decorate the cakes and because the lions share of the work had already been done, we were able to just hang out and decorate. I read several posts about making a tree stump cake and decided that using tempered chocolate would be the easiest. I bought 60% cacao knowing the cake and buttercream would be sweet sweet sweet. I tempered a whole bag and then spread it out on wax paper and then rolled it out onto wax paper. I rolled it up in a paper towel roll and let it freeze solid. Once it is was solid, I unwrapped it and it broke into curved shards. If I use this technique again, I’d only temper half a bag and spread it thinner as it was fairly difficult to get it to break apart in it’s thickest parts. You can see, it was a hit!
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What I Read: June ’17

March: Books One, Two and Three by John Lewis: Crucial, critical reading. I loved seeing this story and while I would not call myself a ‘graphic novel gal’ there is something about this medium that really serves this story. It is one thing to read words describing the Jim Crow era and it is another to visually see that violence – and yet another to have lived it.

You’re Doing A Great Job by Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn: I read this in an evening and it was quick and pithy. Worth checking out from your library if you love the podcast.

*Not Your Sidekick by C. B. Lee: This was loaned to me by a friend for Read Harder and it was an interesting and quick read. “Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain.” (via). I’m glad I read it – it isn’t something I would have ever picked up on my own but was a fun read.

Baby C: Month 12

Likes: Daniel Tiger, cheddar bunnies, bath time

Dislikes: diaper changes, clothing changes, waiting

Who You Saw: Grandma, your Aunt and cousins from MN flew in for your birthday party and we hosted friends and family for your birthday party

Where We Went: Chikaming Township, MI, Columbus Clippers home game

Milestones: running, waving, clapping, sorting and some ‘words’

on haterz

IMG_7058I follow several ‘famous’ bloggers, Instagram personalities and YouTube stars. There is a variety of responses such commentary by these personalities – it usually get qualified as ‘jealous haters’. To be sure, there is some of that – especially with YouTube where even small YT channels can easily make thousands of dollars a month! But most of it is commentary on how the personality is smug / has it wrong / shouldn’t be encouraging whatever they are encouraging. However, I frequently feel that – that take isn’t wrong.

We content creators (even this blog that only my mama reads counts) share about our lives because we think we have something worth sharing. A story worth telling. To say with confidence and certainty ‘this is the way’ is to invite commentary.

I’m living my life this way because I do think it’s the best way. It’s best for me, for M, for C. I think that there are lots of other healthy, productive ways to live as well but I put myself out there ~ I share ~ cute InstaStories and take the time to write blog posts but I’ve something that *works* for me. I believe, deep into the fiber of my being, that everyone who writes a blog, has an Instagram presence, you name it, also feels this way deep down – even if they deny it. If there’s anything that this election and current presidency shows, is that so many of us have very, very different ideas of what a good life looks like. Of course, you’re going to get push back for putting out your values and beliefs. Having and expressing different opinions and values makes many many adults uncomfortable. And hey, when actual Nazis get elected, it’s time to get loud.

no fast fashion summer 2017

I’m taking part in a no fast fashion challenge for summer – meaning no purchasing from any fast fashion stores like Old Navy, Target. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t be making any clothing purchases as it is – I got some new summer stuff in the early spring when I realized what worked last year will not work now and sprang for a bunch of new under-roos for me. I’m glad of the reminder to be mindful – especially when sustainable clothing is usually made much closer to home & is better for workers rights and wages. Please watch The True Cost before bragging about getting $300 worth of clothing for $75 bucks – someone else is paying that price.

I want to spend some time making clothing for me; our basement is a mess and will be for a far bit I’m guessing. I also am wanting a serger to start sewing with knits. It’s so hard to want to go downstairs to sew when the weather is so great!

One of my friends did #memademay this year and I loved see all the clothing she’s made for herself and her little one! I have 1 thing I made but it’s the wrong size. I need to get cracking if I plan on making any attempt at #memademay next spring.  I am considering using these 5 Grainline patterns to get started – anyone have any experience with them? I’m not sure if I should start with a free pattern to see if this is a kind of sewing I can really get into regularly.

I have no idea where this is going, sustainable clothing has been on my brain lately so I’m just getting it out there. Here’s some great tips about shopping consciously from one of my favorite YouTubers!

Sheep Cupcakes

Over Easter (I knowwwwww), I made a batch of the cutest sheep cupcakes! I mostly want this ‘recipe’ searchable for next year so bear with me!

I made a batch of my favorite yellow cake and a batch of homemade buttercream – ’cause if you’re going for it, GO FOR IT. I then made a dome of frosting and stuck in marshmallows for the sheep’s fur. I (over)tinted some fondant and then sculpted some heads and used store bought black icing for the eyes. I think they turned out super cute!

Chikaming Township, MI

We went away for a quiet family weekend to Southwestern Michigan over Memorial Day weekend. I found a quaint cottage and we were able to walk to the beach on Lake Michigan. C loved the sand and indulged us with a few quick toe touches of freezing Lake Michigan water. We hit up both Greenbush Brewing and Haymarket for lunches (and growler fill ups!) and cooked in for breakfast and dinner. We had very low expectations of going on vacation with a kiddo – we were home each afternoon for nap time, and we spent most of that time reading on the porch. We also went over to Warren Dunes State Park and did a great 4 mile hike; although it was a little too long for C. If we had realized we were hiking 2 miles thru sand dunes, we could have foreseen that and planned a better break. Overall, it was a lovely vacation, and no, I’m not telling you where the name of the cottage we rented. It’s our little secret!

What I Read: May ’17

The Master Switch by Tim Wu: This dense tome covers over a century of technological progress, identifying the cycle of openness – closed systems that are a byproduct our capitalist society. “With all our media now traveling a single network, an unprecedented potential is building for centralized control over what Americans see and hear. Could the Internet—the entire flow of American information—come to be ruled by one corporate leviathan in possession of “the master switch”?” I certainly learned a lot and enjoyed stretching myself with this masterful resource.

*I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-Ha Kim: This novel is fairly short and was something I selected for Read Harder ‘Read a book set 5000 miles away from your location’ and I really did enjoy it. It was not exactly my style, more of a thriller, but it enjoyed reading it would love to check out other books by Kim.

Positivity: Top Notch Research Reveals the Upward Spiral That Will Change Your Life by Barbara Fredrickson: This book was in the ‘parenting’ section at our local library; where they display books for adults in the middle of the kids section and I grabbed it on a whim. I found parts of it to be erudite but there were loads of tips in allowing room for positivity to breath and to better weather bumps life throws you.

*Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, Mai’a Williams: This anthology was gripping, challenging and convicting. These stories are so important – worth a read (although probably worth skipping if you’re TTC, some graphic descriptions of birth and breastfeeding). 

*Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country by Louise Erdrich: I love her writing some much and this shorter memoir was highly enjoyable. Her way of describing the Lake of the Woods is breathtaking and enchanting. A must read.

*Black Boy by Richard Wright: This was a hard sit and my selection for a book published before 1945 and a frequently challenged / banned book in my country. I can see why it’s been banned – Wright paints a vibrant image of life of Black Americans during the nineteen teens and twenties. While filled with several hard moments to read, it is a real version of this American life and is part of our national narrative.

*The Agüero Sisters by Christina Garcia: I zoomed through this book in the car and while I loved Dreaming in Cuban, I didn’t connect with either of the main characters.

Baby C: Month 11

Likes: playing in the pool / bath / water table, yogurt and cottage cheese, selfie cam (baby’s first selfie!), having Mama or Daddy ask Google Home to play animal sounds

Dislikes: nothing new really lately…although, now that I’ve said that!

Who You Saw: We had a very quiet month at home! A few friends and their sweet little one came over for breakfast at our house, and there was only one melt down over sharing your toys

Places Your Traveled: We were lucky enough to get in two great hikes at Blacklick this month.

Milestones: First ER visit for you, there’s been a lot of upset tummies in our house this month. I’m very grateful to have a wonderful doctor and team in our corner. Other milestones include a lot more mimicking and putting things ‘away’ – like your favorite sippy cup in our hamper!