Olivia’s TWO

Olivia turned two this past weekend!  We had a fun-filled weekend with special visits from family.  We spent our time exploring the city and eating all sorts of delicious food.  We planned to do something fun with family for her birthday but living in a small home felt it’d be best if we broke it up between two days.  Instead of one party with everyone crammed in the house and the cost quickly adding up, we took it to the streets — explored the city for free and then had a casual lunch either at the house or outside.  It turned out to be such a fun + affordable way to spend the weekend and soak up this exciting time.

Olivia was so excited to wake to a spread of balloons around her room.  Cheap and totally entertaining fun!  I’m sure we’ll have the balloons around for a few days to occupy her.

This past year, I’ve been so interested in developing our family’s traditions and this easily may become one — french toast with strawberries & whip cream for breakfast on birthdays.  Again, affordable + tasty.  I love that with traditions you know what to expect and it’s always something that you can look forward to.

One of my personal goals for Liv’s birthday was to nail down a family birthday cake.  I wanted a reliable recipe that’s not only easy but also tasty.  I made a vanilla & chocolate cake for Peter’s birthday and unfortunately it was dry + bland, so I was determined to find a better one.  My sister-in-law passed along this recipe and I’m so happy with it!  The recipe is from Life, Love, and Sugar and is actually a cupcake recipe but works for cake! I loved that there aren’t any tricky ingredients and I already had all of them in my pantry.

The cake turned out really moist & dense — my favorite!  We already had icing at our house so I used that instead of making it myself.  That can always be an option to save you some time.

Olivia ended up waking as I was icing the cake, so I didn’t bother to shave off the top of the cake to make it even and straight but I love it just as much!

  

VANILLA CAKE

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups (325g) all purpose flour
2 cups (414g) sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup (240ml) milk
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup (240ml) hot water

VANILLA FROSTING

1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp water or milk

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C) and two 8″ cake pans.
2. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
3. Add the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and eggs to a medium sized bowl and combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
5. Slowly add the hot water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
6. Split the batter between two 8″ cake pans.
7. Bake for 20 Minutes (I baked for 24 minutes)
8. To make the frosting, combine the butter and shortening in a large mixer bowl and mix until smooth.
9.  Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
10. Add the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of water or milk and mix until smooth.
11. Add remaining powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
12. Add remaining water or milk as needed and mix until smooth.

It was certainly birthday-girl approved!

Four Steps to Organize Any Space

The same steps can always be taken for any organizing project. Whether it’s a small drawer or large closet, here are steps that will help manage the process.

1. Commit + Clear Out: Commit to one space at a time. Commit + complete so you avoid spreading overwhelming messes across the house. When you have chosen one space, either clear it out or sort through it so you get a chance to see everything.

2. Sort: When all objects are spread on the table/floor, sort the items between — Toss, Donate, Move, Keep. Using large totes or trash bags for this process is helpful. As you’re sorting consider if you love it, need it, or use it. If none of the above, then toss/donate it! Put all items in their designated bag/tote.

3. Style: Now it’s time to arrange the “keep” items in their space. Put heavily used items in the front or a more accessible location. Place small items in containers from around your house or if containers are needed, write them down on a list to purchase. It’s important to note that you shouldn’t purchase any bins/containers before this step. Otherwise, you’ll collect items that may not work for this space.


4. Maintain
: In order to have a successful organized space, there’s always upkeep. Continue to check the space regularly – move items to where they belong and toss items that you don’t need, use, or love.

Banana, Oat + Egg Pancakes

I’m always up for simple + quick recipes with minimal ingredients that are also healthy.  This one is all of that!  Olivia isn’t a big eater so I’m guilty of just sticking with food that I know she’ll eat.  I’ve been trying to offer more variety in her diet. I’ve noticed if I include her in the cooking process she’s much more adventurous.  These were quick + easy for us to cook together and the best part — she ate them right up!

Banana, Oat, & Egg Pancakes

1 mashed ripe banana

2 eggs

handful of oats

Add a little apple sauce, cinnamon and fruit on the side.  Delicious!

You could make a whole bunch and freeze for those quick mornings running out the door.  Toss in the toaster and go!  You can add more fruit in the pancakes for a little extra kick too.

Recipe found @toddlerandtoast