Monday, May 26, 2014

A Simple Saturday

We are always looking for new hikes to go on as a family!

I've been struggling to find new hikes that aren't hours away (right now, that's just too much for the twins - to be in a car for an hour...and then go on a two hour hike). So when I found one that was about 30 minutes from our house, I jumped at the chance.

We went to the Effie Yeaw Nature Center at the American River Parkway. Unfortunately, we went on Memorial Day weekend, so the rates for parking had gone up (to $8), which made the REALLY short hike not worth it. Maybe if we hadn't had to pay that, it would have felt a little better. But the trails (and, I'm pretty sure we did them all) were just all so short. I forgot my watch, so I'm not sure how many miles we did, but it couldn't have been more than 2 miles total (as in - we went on 3 different trails and only went 2 miles - short).

We have to go hiking early in the morning because it gets in the high 90's this time of year. But Connor does so well! He hikes all by himself and keeps up with us!
 Isabella takes a lovely ride in my backpack, but I'm pretty sure we're nearing the end of our backpack journeys (they're going to be three in June and my back isn't as young as it used to be. Ha.). I told Mr. Howard that I'm sad we're nearing the end of this stage in life and that it means we need another baby to fill the backpack. He was not amused. ;-)
 Aiden does really well on these hikes. He is normally so full of energy and wants to run around; but if you put him in the backpack, he sits and is really patient!
 There was a tiny pond on one of the trails and Connor was amused with the frogs that occupied it:
I didn't mean to turn this photo black and white, but after I did it - I sorta loved it. Doesn't the background look so pretty?
 The boys:
 Connor loves to go ahead of us, because he says we go too slow. We tell him we're old and then he giggles.
 I don't think I'd ever go back to these trails, unless there was an event or program (they have educational programs for school-age kids) that we were going to visit as well. But it got us out of the house on Saturday morning and gave us a little energy. That being said, if you're a family who hasn't ever hiked with your family - this might be the perfect introduction to you! I'd probably call it more of a Nature Walk than I would a hike. 

On our way home, we drove right past a Cole street sign. It's been a while since I've seen his name and this made Mr. Howard and me smile!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Breakfast at Tiffany's Bridal Shower

I have been waiting forever to post these photos and I just can't wait to finally show you! I worked a long time on this bridal shower to make it perfect, because how often do you get to throw a bridal shower for your soon-to-be sister-in-law? Hopefully only once. ;-)

I cleared out my living room of all my furniture (we put it in the garage) and made one long table so that everyone could eat together! I was going to do two tables, but I'm so glad this worked out! Rebecca sat at the head of the table so she could see everyone!
Here were the invitations I sent out from Lovingly Mine. I also ordered a few extra and used them as centerpiece decorations on the table.
I called it Breakfast at Tiffany's, but I really served brunch (at 11am), so I made these parfaits with honey greek yogurt and fresh fruit and served them in wine glasses! I made three parfaits for the kids. I let guests put their own granola on top if they wanted. Next to that I had champagne for the guests who drank.
 I made an Asiago Caesar Salad!
My mom made her breakfast quiche (not pictured, for some reason) and I made different types of sandwiches (prosciutto, smoked Gouda, salami, veggies) and tied them with tiffany blue twine!

 And Hawaiian Fruit Punch Lemonade:
 I served Rebecca, the bride-to-be, her parfait in a special glass tied with matching tiffany blue twine and ribbon!
 And the punch lemonade filled these adorable mason jars:
 I tied balloons to the cake and dessert table. Can you see them in the background?
 I found the cutest Tiffany blue plates (they were plastic! can you believe it?) and tiffany blue diamonds for decorations for the table:
 The cake was made by the Oh-So-Talented Legacy Bakeshop. I purposely chose this cake, rather than a tiffany box-style cake, because Rebecca picked out a similar cake from Legacy Bakeshop for their wedding and I knew the rosette cake was her favorite!
 I made the cupcakes!
 And covered them with edible pearls:
 For centerpieces, I made these tissue paper pom poms and put them in glass vases (this is also a good photo of the bride's plate and the invitation sitting on the table as part of the centerpiece):
Other centerpieces included a cake plate with stacked tiffany boxes and stacked tiffany boxes on candle stick holders:
 The tiffany plates were plastic, but I used real glassware and silverware. Rebecca's white plate was from my Kate Spade wedding china (that Mr. Howard and I got seven years ago when we were married):
We also had balloons (without string) all over the ceiling above us
We only did two games, but I was really happy with the way that they turned out (both downloaded from etsy)! And then we did an Advice for the Bride card too. 
I'll do a Part 2 where I'll tell you where I got everything (with links)- for those of you who are interested in recreating this! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Randoms

This past weekend, we went on a really fun 5k walk with Team Target in honor of Cystic Fibrosis. The kids did really well (only Connor walked it) and were in great spirits. I think it helped that we promised them acai bowls (also known in our household as "icecream") when we were done! 
We were pet sitting for my brother and his fiance, so Nova came with us on the walk. She was NOT impressed with Target's Bullseye, but the kids definitely were! Isabella even gave him a high five - which was pretty miraculous! We probably got stopped 15 different times with people wanting to pet Nova or ask about her. Any of my single friends want to borrow her? I am pretty sure it's the perfect way to meet about half of the people in your town!
We have been really trying to go on more family walks at night. We haven't been super consistent during the work week because it's so hard to get dinner, baths, and everything done after preschool and before bed - but on the weekends, we've been pretty good at it!
I have been trying really hard to either work out by dvd or run several times a week. It isn't always easy - because I'm just so darn tired after working - but I'm determined.
Even on days when I'm exhausted, I just go do a little run. 1.5 miles is NOTHING for me anymore, but it's still better than sitting on the couch.
Isabella has been very into dress up lately. I came to pick her up from preschool to find her like this:
I am trying oh-so-very hard to model healthy eating for my family. If it were up to Mr. Howard, we'd eat bacon cheeseburgers and ice cream for every meal. So, he isn't always easy to please - but I'm trying. I found this recipe for paleo cookies that uses almond flour, coconut oil, and syrup. Mr. Howard, Connor, and I liked them (they're definitely more scone-like in flavor than cookie-like) - but the babies did not care for them AT ALL. So funny.
Hubby and I have started taking pictures, just so we can see what Connor does behind us. It's pretty darn funny. He's such an adorable little photobomber:
 Speaking of Connor, he rarely falls asleep in our bed - but when he does - Oh Goodness Gracious! My heart explodes! I cannot believe he is going to be five-years-old in six weeks. WHAT?!?
 The end of the school year is always SO stressful for me. I come home physically and mentally just exhausted after every day. I know the kids are even more sick of me than I am of the games they keep playing (like my favorite game, the "if-I-keep-asking-you-the-same-question-over-and-over-maybe-she'll-change-her-mind"). Not so much. Yesterday, I'm pretty sure steam was actually pouring out of my ears as I answered the same question 987 times. Needless to say, I have needed a little break to recharge and I've just been so tired at night (literally crawling in bed at 7:45pm one night); so hubby decided to make me a breakfast and coffee Thursday morning instead - as a little date. It lasted 15 minutes and the kids were running around like crazy people while we pretended we were in a cafe in Paris, France (ha!), but it was just what I needed. A small break.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Backyard Update

I always hate posting before photos when I have no after to show, but I also love seeing progress pictures as a reader of other people's blogs! So, I am posting these backyard photos!

Also, disclaimer: we live in California. The yard size we have is VERY typical of where we live. We have friends with bigger yards and some with smaller. Some of you from the South are probably going to look at this yard and wonder where the rest of it is and those of you in Southern California are going to think it's a ginormous yard. Ha! It's all relative!

Here is a Complete Before. We had literally done NOTHING since we moved in (not even weeded because what was the point?!):

 Here's a different angle. The only thing we had back there was our playset from our other house and the table and chairs (we only used it to sit at while the kids played in the dirt):
We decided on a few pads of concrete in the yard. After lots of discussions, plan creation, and mapping it all out, our concrete guy set the string lines, staked, and started framing:
 Here you can see the string and the framing. He did a 1% slope on everything - so that rain wouldn't pool on it.
This is standing at our slider looking into the backyard. We decided on a slab immediately to the right that is 9ft x 15ft, where we'll put a table and chairs (and probably umbrella), a walkway that goes out to a big patio, a 16ft x 30 ft slab patio, a walkway to the left that goes all the way to the end of our yard, and then a walkway that goes down the left side of the house to the front gate of our house with a bigger slab to put our trashcans on. It was a LOT of concrete. But really, that's what works for us. We really wanted an outdoor living space (couch, fireplace, bbq, etc.) and LOTS of space for the kids to ride their bikes/scooters. On the 16 x 30 slab, we're putting our gazebo, a fireplace, and then seating around the fireplace. 
 This view is standing on the left side of the yard:
 I wanted to give you an idea of what we'll see outside of our back doors:
And here was when they were pouring the concrete:
 Here's that big slab at the back of our fence, from the side:

 This is the slab that's going to house a table, chairs, and umbrella:
After he had the concrete poured, he started the process of stamping and staining it (this is the part where all of you in different parts of the world with real property say, "Oh my goodness! You can see into your neighbors yard from your second story! How on earth is there a house so close to you??" And maybe those of you in cities say, "Wow! Look at how much room you have in your yard!") Ha! This photo is taken from our second story. We're building things that should help to block the view (like the gazebo) from our neighbors:
Our concrete is currently in the process of being sealed. Once that's done, we will start building the gazebo that's sitting in our garage, installing sprinklers, laying sod, getting wood chips, planting plants, and whatever else we can think of. =) We should be finished in, say, a year? Grrrr. I hate how long projects always take! We are ALL dying to be able to use the yard!

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