Thursday Check In – On Birthdays



So I’m sitting in my Wednesday moms’ group, talking about ways we take care of ourselves, and I’m sharing what I’ve learned about Sabbath, about intentionally leaving one day free of obligations and commitments so that it can be what I want it to be instead of what it has to be (I truly think this idea is genius, and this podcast was a great listen for me).

Then another mom echoes my thoughts, and shares that for her family, that day has always been Sunday.  They go to church in the morning, and then it’s a day for family time.  She said her daughters know that if they get invited to a birthday party on a Sunday, they understand that they probably won’t be going.  That a lot of birthday parties her girls get invited to are those, “invite the whole class,” kinds of birthdays, and she feels comfortable turning those down.  I nod my head in agreement, because that makes sense to me.

And then I find this post, from one of my most favorite blogs, What Would Gwyneth Do? all about saying yes to birthdays.  Because some kids are just waiting for a classmate to say yes.  Because inviting the whole class is a display of kindness that not everyone shows.  And again, I’m nodding my head in agreement, this makes perfect sense, too.  And it sounds a lot like celebrating everything, which we know is something I’m into.

This is about the 800th reminder to me this week alone that there is no right and wrong, good and bad, black and white way to be a family.  What works for one unit doesn’t work for another.  One family has a great reason to turn down Sunday birthdays.  Another has a great reason to gratefully accept all the invitations they can.  When birthday party season hits us (preschool? kindergarten?) I don’t know where we’ll come down in terms of our RSVPs.  But I am forever grateful for the moms who share the real whys behind their choices.

The Story Behind the Menu – CV(D)’s Baby Shower

me and cv(d).

Who: CV(D), me, and about 20 of our friends.

What: A baby shower

When: Saturday brunch

Why: Because I love her, duh.

parfaition setup.

the spread.

The Thought Process:  I was going for a staff breakfast vibe.  CV(D)’s (former-wah!) and my place of employment is famous for hosting some indulgent morning meals for our coworkers, many of whom were with us that morning.  I knew right away I had to have Nutella French Toast casserole on the menu; that’s CV(D)’s brunch fave.  Cracker Barrel’s hash brown casserole is a crowd favorite, so that got added too.  Brunch isn’t complete unless you have an egg dish, so I made one, and a friend brought one.  Other friends rounded out the sides with fruit, bread, and of course parfait.  We had to add a donut tree, because CV(D) ate about half of the one at The (Not So) New Girl’s shower.

the house.

The Menu:

Slow Cooker Nutella French Toast Casserole

Cracker Barrel’s Hash Brown Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

Parfation (yogurt, granola, and fruit)

Pumpkin bread, banana bread, muffins, and cinnamon rolls

Donut tree (cover a styrofoam cone in tinfoil, poke toothpicks in, and fill the toothpicks with donut holes)

Mimosa station

seat of honor.

What Worked:

Who worked might be a better descriptor here, and who worked was AGOMYR.  She came early, placed a salted caramel mocha in my hand, and we ran around the kitchen together for about an hour and a half to get everything in place in time.  She didn’t even ask what needed doing, she just figured it out and did it, including, but not limited to, hanging bunting (that she hand-lettered), slicing treats, finishing the toothpick-ing of the donut tree, taking people’s coats, arranging gifts, taking most of the photos you see in this post, and staying far longer than necessary to clean.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a party she wasn’t invited to, but she locked in all future invitations with this one.

But what worked was, um, everything?  I can’t take a step back here and evaluate the success of a brunch at my house with so many of my favorite people (and foods).  I loved watching everyone reunite, and of course, celebrate one of my best friends.  It was a truly wonderful

What Didn’t:

The donut tree!  I don’t even understand.  It was a star of The (Not So) New Girl’s shower, and wasn’t such a hit at CV(D)’s.  I suspect not enough people picked at it at first, and then others didn’t want to disturb the beauty.

This is Not a Craft Blog

crafternoon pumpkins.

But La Moneda did play host to some craftivities the other night.  Two work friends came over to help decorate the house for CV(D)’s baby shower.  I made the favors.  That took absolutely no craftiness at all. These pumpkins, on the other hand, are a different story entirely.  I tried to amass the supplies one needs to make glitter pumpkins, but failed to recognize the difference between Martha Stewart glitter, and Martha Stewart glitter paint.  Oops.  Luckily, my friend Kim made lemonade out of lemons with the purple paint, and our other friend Christine had some orange glitter up her sleeve.  The results of Kim’s work are these beauties you see here.  I feel guilty that they’re all gracing my mantel, but they’re gorgeous and festive, and I’m not giving them back.

I’m also debating dabbling in decoupage in the name of confetti pumpkins for the front stoop, but I think I gave my circle punches away when we moved, and I don’t know that I’d have the patience to cut this many circles out of tissue.  Stay tuned, dear readers.

On Strengths [homemade funfetti cookies]

By this point, we know there are no shortage of things I love about my Day Designer.  But one in particular, one you might not pick up on while watching me prattle on about it for a whopping 7.5 minutes, is that it’s centered on your strengths.  I’ve made subtle changes to my to-do lists over the years along similar lines.  They no longer contain things I think I should do, but don’t want to do.  Or things I think I’m not so great at, but want to get better at.  That just sets me up for failure.  My Day Designer took that strength-centered approach to the next level, which I discovered as I worked through the pages in the beginning.  There is no place in the book for things you are terrible at now, but want to do better someday.  In the book, you list your strengths, and you list your goals and dreams.  And those are things you might have to work for.  But there’s nowhere to take something that is a struggle, and try to turn it into something bright and sunshiney.  That’s a different kind of work entirely.  That’s misery.  Whitney English has no time for that.  She tells you to find what you love, and to do it more.  I have to think when you live it that way, the rest of life will take care of itself.

rainbow waterfall

You play to your successes, and they build on each other.

rainbow waterfall 2

Elise takes a similar approach when she shares the first month’s progress on her #eliselovesmornings Instagram project.

{I am having fun with this because I love mornings. I’ve had a few comments along the “I wish I loved mornings” variety and my response to that is “Why?” If you don’t love mornings that’s no big deal. Don’t waste time wishing you love anything and instead think about something you already love and celebrate that.}

Celebrate.  There’s that word again.

funfetti cookies

After a couple recent kitchen fails, I decided I needed to get out of my little rut.  I read this post about sneaking away to the kitchen to make sprinkle cookies for breakfast, and I realized that idea was right on.  A “snow” day today was the perfect time to make it happen.  These cookies are so simple, I knew I couldn’t fail.  Adding 3/4 C rainbow sprinkles to sugar cookies?  OMG!  It’s like they’re smiling back at you.  I used Averie’s recipe.  Celebrate, indeed.

funfetti cookies pile

To make a couple dozen, you will need:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 C rainbow sprinkles

Mix butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla in bowl of mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Let mixer run for 5 minutes.  Timing is everything here, dear readers.  You want everything to be light and fluffy, like so.

butter and sugar

That means you really have to wait 5 minutes, stopping only to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  I find it helps to do an annoying kitchen task that I would otherwise roll my eyes at.  This time around, I unloaded the dishwasher.  It only took 5 minutes.  5 minutes!  Why do I dread it so much if it only really takes 5 minutes?  Ugh, I’m a pain.

Add flour, corn starch, baking soda, and salt, and mix just till combined.  Fold in sprinkles by hand.  Refrigerate dough, at least 2 hours, or overnight.  Also, who waits overnight to bake cookies?  I don’t have that kind of patience.  If you do, and you do leave it overnight, let the dough come to room temperature about 15 minutes before you scoop it out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheet with parchment.  Scoop out heaping mounds of dough (Averie uses a 2-inch cookie scoop) onto baking sheet, and spread cookies about two inches apart.  Bake 8 minutes, until tops are just beginning to set.  These are soft-baked cookies, so you don’t want to bake them much longer.  The dough will settle and cook a bit more once you set them on the stovetop.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes, and then remove and cool completely on wire rack.

Scarf down as many as you can in a short time.  Because they’re that good, and because RAINBOW SPRINKLES!!!!