Thursday, September 22, 2011

Zoo Animal Themed Birthday Party

Since a lot of people have asked, I would like to share some of the crafts that I made and some of the vendors that I used for Ryan’s zoo animal themed first birthday party.

Animal Cookies (made by Melissa at TSCookies)

Banana Puff Cones for the babies (I made these)

Funfetti Cupcakes (I made these)
Toppers (designed by simplysweetpartyshop)

Cheese and Crackers Lion (I made this)

Party Snacks in Jars
"Gummy Monkeys" - Curious George Fruit Snacks 
"Bear Cubs"- Teddy Grahams
"Monkey Vines"- Twizzlers

Birthday Banner (I made this)

Birthday Hat (I made this)

Birthday Shirt (made by BKchicboutique)

                          Source: via Dana on Pinterest

Party Favors:  Animal Crackers (picked up at the grocery store, I made the tags) and Zoo Animal Beach Balls (Oriental Trading)

Centerpiece: Flowers (a gift from my mom) and 
Mini Stuffed Animals (Oriental Trading)

Cards, Labels, and Barrel of Monkeys (I made these)

Tissue Paper Luminarias (my mom and I made these)

Drinks: Green Fruit Punch, Iced Tea, and Water

Posters on Easel: "Happy 1st Birthday"

"Newborn to 11 Months Pictures" (both posters made by me)

Lion Face Decoration (I made this)

I think that covers most of the party details.  We also gave out animal stickers and had The Jungle Book playing in the movie room.  The babies played with jumbo zoo animal figurines on a mat spread out on the floor.  We had the food catered, but I could have just as easily put it together myself if I hadn’t ran out of time.  (It was sandwiches, fruit, and hummus/pita bread).

I hope that you have enjoyed my ideas.  Please feel free to use them in planning your own zoo animal birthday parties.  We had a lot of fun with this theme!

Ryan's First Birthday Party

It felt great to have so many of our friends and family gather together last weekend for Ryan’s first birthday party.  We ended up entertaining around forty guests in our party room.  Everything went perfectly, except for the birthday boy crying when we sang happy birthday and brought him his cake (poor thing!)  I think that he was just intimidated by so many people looking at him at once.  I know that one day he will look back on the pictures and appreciate everyone showing him so much love and attention.

I am thankful to everyone for driving all the way here, walking forever from far away parking places, and for bringing Ryan such thoughtful gifts.   We actually got another toy organizer for him because all of his stuff would no longer fit in his football bin.  We enjoyed having everyone over to celebrate and I feel fortunate to have such a close-knit group of wonderful people supporting us.  Special thanks to E, K, and my mom for coming a few hours early to help me set up before the party!

Thanks again to all of our guests... we love you!  (And sorry to the people cut out of the picture. There just wasn't room for me to step back any farther!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Birthday Zoo Trip

Yesterday we celebrated Ryan’s first birthday.  It has been one whole year since this tiny little being came into our lives.  I still remember the way it felt to hold him for the first time, and how delicate and fragile he was in my arms.  I remember having an overwhelming urge to protect this helpless newborn.  I just wanted to keep him as safe as he was in my tummy.  This little baby was too innocent for this world; an pure angel, sent to us from heaven.

In a year’s time, Ryan has had the opportunity to experience life and to begin finding his own place in it.  His personality has emerged as someone who is both fun-loving and sensitive at the same time.  We greatly enjoy Ryan’s sense of humor.  He laughs and giggles at different sounds, facial expressions, and anything out of the ordinary.  He already shows signs of being strong-willed and motivated, since he is determined to do things only on “his terms”.   I love that about him because it reminds me that he is his own little person with unique thoughts and feelings that are separate from my own. 

As Ryan’s mommy, I may not be able to protect him from everything forever, but I can help him to grow into the type of person who will approach life with enthusiasm, compassion, and humility.  I am already so proud of his every accomplishment.  I know that one day we will look back and wonder how we ever raised such an amazing individual. 

Ryan got to visit the zoo for the first time on his first birthday!  He loved to point and stare at some animals, but he didn’t even seem to notice that other animals were there.  I think that his favorite were the small monkeys.  Although we got to see most of the animals, I was disappointed that we didn’t see any giraffes or lions.  We plan to go back to the zoo another time (when it isn’t so hot) to hopefully see more animals.

When we got back home, grandma came over and we watched Ryan open his presents that were from mommy and daddy.  (He will be opening the rest of his presents at his party this weekend).  I showed Ryan how to rip off the wrapping paper, and he opened a couple of them himself.  Then, he got so excited about playing with his new toys that he wasn’t even interested in opening the rest.  I think that Ryan’s favorite gifts so far are his drum and a set of miniature golf clubs that daddy picked out.  Our little guy is certainly just like his daddy and I love them both so much!

I am spending the rest of today and tomorrow getting ready for Ryan’s birthday party on Saturday.  I have been planning the party for a while, and I am excited to see how it all turns out.  I will probably post about the party once the weekend is over and everything has calmed down.  For now, I will just give you a hint: the party theme will be Zoo Animals

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kali the Kitten

This is E's seven month old kitten that she rescued from a shelter.  Kali is feisty, sweet, and also very photogenic.  I just couldn't stop taking pictures of her!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Girls Cooking Date

Last night, my parents and Aunt S offered to baby-sit Ryan so that I could hang out with two of my best girl friends and Barry could go out with the guys (their husbands). We all enjoyed doing our own thing for a change. Us girls decided to spend our time talking and cooking, while the guys went to a sports bar and batting cages. (hmm typical gender stereotypes?)

It was great to catch up with K and E, since they have both been super busy lately and I hadn't seen them for a while. I love how we can just pick up right where we left off, no matter how much time has passed between visits. We can seriously talk about any and everything, and are just as close as we were in high school (which feels like a lifetime ago, especially after all that has happened lately). The evening went by way too fast, but we ended up with a delicious dinner and plenty of leftovers. I think that the aprons were a nice touch to our little cooking date.

And now for our menu/recipes...

Cucumber with Herbed Cream Cheese


fresh herbs: basil, sage, oregano, chives
cream cheese


Dice herbs. Slice cucumber. Mix all herbs with cream cheese and spread on cucumbers. (We also tried this with carrots and it was yummy).

(Recipe originally from Alisaburke)

Spinach Lasagna Rolls


9 lasagna noodles, cooked
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained
15 oz fat free ricotta cheese (I like Polly-o)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and fresh pepper
32 oz tomato sauce
9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 350°. Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls.

(Recipe originally from Skinnytaste)

Stuffed Zucchini


1 tbsp sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tomato
1 tsp thyme
2 zucchinis
1 onion
bacon (optional)


Preheat your oven to 400 (200C).

Slice zucchini in half length-ways. Spoon out the insides (leave about half an inch in) until you end up with boat like shells. Chop the zucchini pulp, a small onion, and half a tomato. Sautee the onions in one tbsp oil or butter. Add 1/4 tsp curry powder and cook everything for an additional 30 seconds. When they are done, transfer them to a big bowl.

Add 1 tsp dried thyme, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp sour cream, a pinch of pepper, the zucchini pulp, the tomato and crumble the bacon in.

Lightly butter a baking dish and put the zucchini boats in. Fill the shells with the mix. Sprinkle some aged cheese on top. Put them in the oven for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

(Recipe originally from Kayotic Kitchen)

Thursday, September 8, 2011


We recently got a chance to take a mini road trip to go visit my cousin and her two sweet daughters. While the kids played together, we got to talk/catch up, and then we all went out to dinner together. Of course, I just had to take some pictures of Ryan and his adorable cousins (who are 2 1/2 years old and 4 years old). I absolutely love these little gals and guy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Butterfly Gardens

Ryan loves to point his finger at people, random items, food, flowers, etc.  It is simply his way of showing that he is interested in something and trying to communicate with us before he can talk.  (We have tried the sign language thing, but I don't think that we have been consistent enough with it.)   When Ryan points to something, he is trying to ask us for more information about it or to tell us that he wants it.

Last week, we went on a playdate to a nearby butterfly garden.  Ryan absolutely loves nature, so I was guided throughout the place by his little finger pointing at all of the flowers and butterflies that he wanted to see.  When we came across a little girl and her mother, Ryan began pointing at the little girl and staring at her.  I hoped that they wouldn't think that we were being rude.  Then, the girl looks up at me and asks, "Mommy, why does she have a baby?"  I met the (older) mother's eyes and smiled. The common understanding:  little children are curious and refreshingly honest about their thoughts. And neither one of them was being rude.

Ryan and I ended up having a great time and meeting lots of new mommies and babies at the playdate.  We also had perfect weather for spending the day crawling around outside on blankets in the grass.

Butterfly Gardens Playdate

Ryan loved playing with his friends and getting to see so many different kinds of butterflies up close.

 Gordon Biersch Lunch Playdate

The next day, we went to another baby outing at Gordon Biersch restaurant.  They barely had enough high chairs for all of us.  We all enjoying talking and feeding our babies little bits and pieces of our lunch.  Ryan also got his own little fruit bowl.  I got the Hummus and Goat Cheese Salad, which I highly recommend to anyone who goes there.  Yumm!

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