1st Birthday Links & Inspiration

1st Birthday Party Links & Inspiration

We’re hosting Nathan’s 1st birthday party today (3 days before he officially turns one). I’ll be sure to update you with pictures and the details behind his party soon. For now, since I’ll be busy in the kitchen today and with our company (my brother and sister – with her husband and son drove up from St. Louis), I’ll share with you some of my inspiration for the party. You can look at these ideas and compare them to my interpretation once I share! :-)

I want to start Nathan’s actual birthday with a crib picture like this and end it with a sleeping one like this. Both priceless!

There were so many adorable chalkboard prints like this so I decided to create my own version. We used it as the invitation and to display. It turned out great – and was much cheaper than ordering it on Etsy (as well designed as that one was)!

Nathan loves books (just like his Mommy) and Little Blue Truck is his favorite. The themed truck ideas were precious but we expanded it into a book party using more of Nathan’s favorite books and some of the ideas here.

Do you want to guess what foods we’ll make for each book? Some of the recipes I’m using are the Pioneer Woman’s macaroni and cheese, mini ham and cheese sliders, and rainbow fruit cups.

baked this layered cake for everyone but of course, I baked a separate little one for Nathan. Betty Crocker had some adorable ideas for smash cakes. Did you know they had an official name like that?

I really appreciated the advice shared about taking professional pictures of a smash cake at home. There was more good advice here and I love the sprinkle idea, too!

I’ve taken pictures of Nathan over the past 12 months so I’ll have those to display. I love displaying the pictures in a big frame but the garland idea was easier to do.

I’ve had fun putting on my creative hat for this party but now I’m simply looking forward to celebrating the day with my sweet baby boy!

Recent Links I Love

Links I Love

Here’s another list of links I loved. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy sharing them! There is a lot of wisdom (and deliciousness) out there that I just can’t keep to myself.

Jon Acuff had a great point when he said everything is a classroom. We can and should be learning daily from all those around us!

The Nester had some great advice about when it’s time to paint your ugly floor. This is why I keep reading her blog because she reminds us it doesn’t have to be perfect to be lovely! Sometimes, you just have to jump in and get started – somewhere!

Edie wrote about finding your calling in chaos. We may not lose our homes the way she did, but we have our own unique challenges. God is with us each step of the way!

I loved Shelly’s honesty with her recent frugal failure in buying cheap bread. We’ve all had frugal failures of our own! I just had one and stayed tune because I’ll be sharing it on Shelly’s blog soon.

Ruth listed 9 conversations every couple needs to have. It’s a big yet important list. Read it carefully – and start talking!

Crystal had a great reminder that we need to choose love today.  Some moments this is easier said than done, but we can make the choice. Love is a choice.

Finally, let’s end on a tasty note. Adriane at Little House on the Dairy shared her memories of – and a recipe for – oatmeal marble chip squares. They look nice and gooey and delicious!

Do you have links to share with us?

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Pioneer Woman Recipe Links To Try

Pioneer Woman Recipe Links I Want to Try - Joyfully Thriving

I have always loved flipping through cookbooks. Perhaps that is why I enjoy browsing Pinterest for recipe inspiration so much! I read several cooking blogs but some are hit and miss. There is one cooking blog that always provides reliably good recipes. That is Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman fame. I have tried many of her recipes already (love her cinnamon rolls!) and have many more that I want to try. Here are a couple of her recipes that I currently want to try.

I love pasta of all kinds. My husband really only likes fettuccine alfredo and only on occasion. I’ve never tried making it but Ree’s recipe for this creamy pasta means maybe I will – just for Andy.

Her recipe for corn and cheese chowder seems like something I would really enjoy. Especially if I were dedicated enough to make a bread bowl for it! This also seems like a perfect soup for winter.

Ree has a fun twist on macaroni with her recipe for shells and cheese (with bacon and peas). Macaroni is already good but bacon makes everything better! I’m still experimenting with macaroni and cheese recipes. So far, the Pioneer Woman’s recipe is my winner for homemade mac and cheese.

I have grown to love grilled veggies so this recipe for grilled veggie burritos looks amazing to me. I love that she put rice in there, just like Chipotle! I could (and should) make this at home, as soon as garden vegetables are in season again.

Finally, Ree recently shared this recipe for apple peanut butter delights. It’s so simple with english muffins, apples, peanut butter and cinnamon sugar but looks absolutely delicious!

There you have it. Those are a couple of the current Pioneer Woman recipes I want to cook. Have you tried any of her recipes? Which ones are your favorites?

The Blessings of Encouragement from (In)courage

Links I Love

How are you today, dear friends? I have a big dose of encouragement to share with you today, compliments of the many lovely ladies of (in)courage. These are words that I needed to hear in the past months and it is my prayer that at least one of these will speak to each one of you as well.

How are you, really? We get asked this question so many times and it’s easy to respond fine. Renee challenged me to think giving an honest answer. Along with that, there’s the thought ‘I don’t really know you, yet I want to.’ Let’s ask and listen and invite each other in.

Sarah wrote about how we need to make room at the table. I love the spontaneity and courage of her friend to invite her to dinner. I want to be like this.

Along similar lines, Anna wrote about practicing true hospitality. What a great definition of true hospitality!

The art of homemaking isn’t what you think, Melissa explained. It’s more than what you think. What a beautiful reminder of all I strive to do as a homemaker.

Angie shared how she wants to go back to the girl she used to be. She wrote this before Christmas but I think it holds true year round. In a world of constant comparison to other women, it can be a struggle. Let’s all go back.

I love this idea of choosing to be absent. The Nester is right. There are times when we need to make this choice.

Ah, Lisa-Jo! She did it again with this one. Go read when you need to remember that waiting isn’t a waste of your time or life. Again, it was written in Advent but applies to all the times we wait.

Lysa reminded us of what we miss when we rush. Take this to heart and slow down today.

If you only read one of these links, make it this one. Again, it’s by Lisa-Jo. Amazing how she speaks to the hearts of Moms. When you worry your life is too small for big ministry affirms what we are already doing as we live our lives.

Again, I hope you were encouraged by one (or many) of these links. Remember, you are known and you are loved. Most importantly, you are known and loved by our gracious and merciful Heavenly Father!

Thoughtful Links I Love

Links I Love

Some weeks, it is the recipes I discover online that excite me. Other weeks, I am challenged by the encouragement I find online. Here’s a collection of some of the most recent thoughtful links I found. I hope some of them speak to you, too!

Jesenia of the Latina Homemaker shared how being too busy can cost you money. I’ve been there and done this. It’s a great reminder to remember that our time can indeed cost us money.

I loved this guest post at Living Well, Spending Less about 3 ways to let go of Mom guilt. It’s an article that all Moms should read.

Lisa-Jo had another marvelous post as she reminded us there’s no such thing as perfect people or perfect hospitality. Let’s open the door just the way we are.

Along similar lines, Crystal encouraged us to stop photo shopping our lives. It’s important to live and be real. There’s a time and place to worry about the messes of life.

Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy talked about how sometimes we simply need to show up. It’s true. There are times when the casseroles and plans don’t matter and we just need to be there. Remember this.

Ruth told her story and how we can minister when there is a miscarriage. It’s honest and written with compassion.

Andrea shared her thoughts on intentional free time…and why she doesn’t sleep when the baby sleeps. Whether you have a baby or not, we can all be intentional with our time.

Tim shared 5 changes he’d make if he could parent again. As someone who is passionate about growing leaders, I appreciated his insights.

Obviously, I’ve been thinking a lot about letting down pretenses and parenting. Which one of these links made you think the most?

Snow Day Links and Ideas

Ideas and Links for a Snow Day - Here's some great ideas for you and your children on the next snow day!

Yay for the surprise delight of snow days! I absolutely love them. When we have a snow day, I do most of the things on this list. Hot chocolate is a snow day necessity and cherry limeade slushes made from snow are a delicious snow day treat!

All Free Kids Crafts created a (free) printable snow day bingo with both outdoor and indoor activities for kids to do. With ideas like build a snowman, read a book and draw a picture, I love this creative way to give children fun choices on a snow day!

Growing a Jeweled Rose had several creative snow day ideas. I especially liked her recipe for Kool-aid snow paint….if you don’t mind your beautiful white snow getting colored! Her twist on making a snow volcano is simple and a nice mini-science lesson that kids will enjoy.

Sugar Aunts shared an idea for little ones that is so easy it’s brilliant! They brought out some of their shapes from a sorter toy and created patterns in the snow! Patterns are such an important early childhood concept so I really love this idea.

I’m sure you’ve seen recipes for snow ice cream floating around, but have you made it? This snow ice cream recipe from Bitz and Giggles is this recipe I use. I keep sweetened condensed milk in my pantry just for this reason!

One of these snow falls, I’m going to make maple snow candy just like Laura Ingalls did in Little house in the Big Woods. I was always so intrigued by that. Creekside Learning shows how easy it is with directions for maple sugar snow candy found here.

I’m adding some of these to my snow day list! What do you like to do on snow days (provided you are fortunate enough to receive them)?

20 Free Valentine Printables

20 Free Valentine's Day Printables - Looking for quick and festive decor Print and frame some of these cute printables for Valentine's Day!

Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly. I appreciate the diversion this one day brings during the middle of a cold winter. My snowmen decorations are still up but every year, I think how I’d like to add some Valentine’s decorations in February. I haven’t done much yet but I have printed and framed some Valentine’s Day prints!

There are so many cute – and free – Valentine’s prints available online. I am thankful to all the amazing designers who generously share them with us! I love printables because it is a quick and easy way to add some festive decor to our home – even at the last moment. As I was thinking about which ones I wanted to print for Valentine’s Day, I decided to compile a list to share some of my favorite Valentine’s Day finds with you. All of these are available for free in either a 5×7 or 8×10 format. Some are in pdf and some are in jpg, but I noted them below. Take a look at the pictures and follow the numbered link below to download your favorites!

I framed the “I Heart U” (number 7) last year and the “Love is Spoken Here” (number 14) the year before. This year, I think I want to print the “So in Love” (number 12) or the “Heart of Aarows” (number 4). Maybe I’ll print both! Which ones are your favorites?

20 Free Valentine's Day Printables for Quick & Easy Valentine's Decor

1. Pizzazzerie – 5 Mix and Match Prints (pdf)

2. How to Nest for Less – You are My One and Only (jpg)

3. Cupcake Diaries – All You Need is Love Chalkboard Print (jpg)

4. Lemon Jitters – Heart of Arrows in 4 Colors (jpg)

5. Decorate My Life – We Love Because He First Loved Us (pdf)

6. The 36th Avenue – You Are My Sunshine (jpg)

7. Oopsey Daisy – I Heart You in Many Colors (jpg)

8. I Heart Naptime – Be Mine Sweetheart (jpg)

9. Sprik Space – Be Mine Hearts (jpg)

10. Sprik Space – Love Diagonal (jpg)

11. Sprik Space – Love More (jpg)

12. Sprik Space – So in Love (jpg)

13. Sprik Space – You’ve Got My Heart on a String (jpg)

14. Sprik Space – Love is Spoken Here (jpg)

15. Sprik Space – All You Need is Love (jpg)

16. Love from the Oven – Gold Love Heart (pdf)

17. Bonjour Blog – Valentine’s Day Subway Print (jpg)

18. Eighteen 25 – A True Love Story Never Ends (jpg)

19. At the Picket Fence – You + Me (pdf)

20. Landee See, Landee Do – I Heart You (jpg)

Valentine Links I Love

Valentine's Day Links

Today is already the last day of January and the start of February tomorrow means I’m thinking of Valentine’s Day! Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but there is much about the one day that I enjoy. We don’t do much in our house but I still enjoy the day. Some of my favorite ideas?

My long distance hug is particularly popular around this time of year. I made it with my preschoolers and their parents and grandparents enjoyed the simple gift.

If you’re looking for food inspiration, look no further than my red and pink themed food list. It’s a fun way to make the meals of Valentine’s Day special for your children.

Two Peas & Their Pod shared a simple but festive recipe for chocolate shortbread dipped in chocolate with pink and red sprinkles. Delicious and cute!

I think Brenda did it again at the Farmgirl Dabbles. She shared her recipe for cream wafer sandwiches with strawberry buttercream frosting. It’s a surprisingly simple recipe that I’d like to try.

For an even simpler recipe that all kids are sure to love, Lauren shared the idea for homemade slice and bake cookies – with hearts in the middle. What a great idea! I will definitely be making these cookies when Nathan’s a bit older to appreciate them.

I liked the idea to wrap pillar candles in burlap and hearts that At Home in the Northwest shared. I could do this! I love ideas like that.

Another simple idea that I like is this easy glitter heart bunting that Alison of Pint-Sized Treasures made. This would look so cute on a mantel or back and forth across a door.

What special things do you do in your family for Valentine’s Day?

Links I Love: Another Food Edition

Links I Love - Joyfully Thriving - Another Food Edition

With cold weather upon us, I’m thinking of comfort foods. Soup is at the top of my list! My husband likes a good chili but I like almost any kind of soup. Here are two new ones that I want to try – along with a couple other recipes that look tasty.

Edie of Life in Grace shared her recipe for loaded potato soup. This looks absolutely amazing. I love a baked potato with all the toppings so why not turn it into soup form? I even have bacon in the fridge so I can top my soup.

Speaking of soups, Adriane from Little House on the Dairy shared her recipe for Iowa corn chowder. It has some of the same ingredients as baked potato soup but adds creamed corn into the mixture. This looks like another winner for winter time!

Jen from Beauty and Bedlam shared her recipe for stuffed breakfast biscuits. I love a good biscuit. Always have. It’s one of my weaknesses, as I slather them with honey. Therefore, the concept of a stuffed biscuit is intriguing to me and warrants a try. Agreed?

I know it’s no longer Fall but I can (and do!) eat pumpkin year round. The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for pumpkin sheet cake looks delicious. I love her recipes. There are so many good ones to try!

Finally, Ashley at Domestic Fashionista created an ideal combination with peanut butter s’mores brownie. I like that this starts with a boxed brownie mix. Adding peanut butter and toasted marshmallows? Brilliant!

There you have it. Those are the latest recipes added to my constantly growing “to make” list.

Links I Love: January 17, 2015

Links I Love

It was a busy week in the Whirrett household! Andy was in charge of a basketball tournament this weekend, so he spent some late nights at school getting ready. I started four new piano students this week in addition to my current eight. Nathan had his 9 month check-up (a couple weeks behind schedule). He’s 20 pounds, 8 ounces, and in the 67th percentile for weight…and 30th percentile for height. The temperature finally made it above freezing so Nathan and I bundled up for a walk in the snow. I’ve been baking lots of bread and pinning the following.

I love Shelly’s idea to make these easy freezer friendly mini strombolis. This makes a meal easy to prepare when you can pull out as many as you need. I love good freezer ideas like these!

Ruth shared a recipe for cheesy bloomin’ olive bread. It looks similar to a recipe from the Pioneer Woman. I love olives so this looks like a delicious appetizer to me.

Andrea honestly shared 2 simple healthier habits that she is working on this year. I love this because anyone can take two baby steps towards good health. My two habits? I’m baking my own bread (to avoid preservatives) and reading labels more carefully to start high fructose corn syrup from our diets.

Edie gave 5 ways to bring the magic back to your kitchen. It’s a great list! I already start early and stock up, but thanks to Edie, I’m going to try wearing an apron more!

Alison listed 6 popular phrases that are not allowed in their home. I wasn’t allowed to speak these phrases (or similar ones) growing up and my children won’t be allowed to either. Language has great power. As parents, it is our task to make sure our children understand this.

Jon Acuff has a great list of 4 ways to read more books in 2015. I’m determined to read more this year as well. These points are good ones!

Lisa-Jo has a powerful list of resolutions (of a sort) for the upcoming year. She always writes so well! We’re not “just” moms and we do need to encourage one another to end these Mommy wars.

Finally, Hearther shared why I want our kids to see me struggle. I agree. Good parenting advice!

How was your week? What did you read and pin this week?

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