Pumpkin Patch Visit

Pumpkin Patch Visit

This past weekend was full of fun fall activities and I thought that I would share a few things that we did.

Weekends tend to be pretty busy for us and we usually end up running errands, visiting with family or going out of town. Which I definitely do enjoy, but this weekend it was just the three of us at home and it felt really nice. We were able to get some house and yard projects accomplished and we were also able to spend some quality time with one another.

Late Saturday afternoon we walked over to Starbucks and then headed to a park that is near our house. They have a playground and some nice walking paths with bridges. It’s so nice to have access to so many parks in the Seattle area.

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Sweatshirt: Nordstrom (sold out, similar hereΒ and here) | Tank Top: TargetΒ | Pants: Zella

On Sunday we went to a pumpkin patch! My husband and I decided that we’ve done this together for the past five years and we actually have gone to the same place every time. We really like Craven FarmΒ so if you’re local and in the area I highly recommend it. Going to Craven has become a tradition for us that is now so fun to share with our little one.

Normally the weather isn’t so great when we go to the pumpkin patch, but it was sunny and beautiful so we lucked out. However, that meant that everyone else had the same idea as us so it was a bit busy but definitely made the experience more exciting since everyone was so pumped about the pumpkins. πŸ˜‰

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xo,

Hillary

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My Top Three Baking Tips

My Top Three Baking Tips

IMG_2808 (2)Fall is my favorite time of year for baking. It’s finally cool enough to turn on the oven but it’s not yet the holiday season so I have more leisurely time to bake. I find baking relaxing and enjoyable so when I have the time to bake I am pretty content.

In light of this, I thought that I would share with you my top three baking tips and what works well for me. I started this blog five or so years ago to encourage myself to cook more. While I think it definitely has served its purpose, I find that I still love to bake more. Here are my top three tips and I hope you find them useful!

Tip #1: Oven Temperature 

One thing that can be a bit tricky is understanding your oven. It really can make a difference in how you bake. I would say this is one part of a recipe that you may need to adjust in order to achieve a perfect bake. For example, I have found that my oven runs slightly hot, but just barely. Most of the time I find that I can just bake cookies or cake at just slightly under the allotted baking time in the recipe and they will turn out perfectly. You may try adjusting the temperature you bake at as well to see if that helps you achieve a better baked final product.

Tip #2: Follow the Recipe

When it comes to baking, following the recipe exactly is an absolute must. Since most of the recipe is based on chemical reactions the measurements need to be fairly exact in order for the result to end up tasty. I think this might be why I enjoy baking so much more than cooking, there are a set of rules that must be followed, and I like to follow rules! It keeps everything organized and in order.

Tip #3: Use an Electric Mixer

If you bake a lot and find that you can invest in a stand mixer, do it!! I promise you will love it and your arms will be so grateful. Unless you enjoy the arm workout from mixing! But I have found that I can’t beat things as well, or nearly as efficiently as with a stand mixer. A hand mixer is a great option as well and is usually a less expensive choice than a stand mixer. This is my stand mixer and I love it, but there are other options out there too that work just as well.

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I find these three tips to work well for me and I hope they help you as well!

xo,

Hillary

Train Birthday Cake

Train Birthday Cake

As promised in a previous post, here is the train birthday cake I made for my baby’s first birthday party. It actually turned out to be pretty cute and in better than I had expected!

To start, I baked two 9×13 inch funfetti cakes. I wasn’t sure initially how much cake I would need for the train, and I thought one would be enough but I didn’t want to make a mistake with a cut or shape and run out of cake. That is why I baked two sheet cakes the day before his birthday party. I didn’t want to bake them any earlier because I didn’t want to serve dry cake at his party.

My mom was a huge help in creating the cake and she traced out several of the train parts onto paper as a template and then I cut the cake pieces based on that. We crafted the cake from the train image that was on the plates, napkins and decor to keep the theme and decor colors consistent throughout.Β IMG_2667IMG_2652As I cut the pieces out of the cake, we started to assembly them on a simple tray. This made it much easier to transport to the park for the party. Luckily we were able to use just one of the 9×13 inch cakes for the cutting up of the train so we brought the other cake in case guests wanted more cake. Once all the pieces were placed I started to frost the cake. I had been searching for the specific colors for a while and finally found the black frosting at Hobby Lobby. You can also use food coloring as well with white frosting to develop the colors you need.IMG_2659IMG_2658I did use some frosting in between the pieces to help glue the cake together. I also filled some small bags with frosting and cut a hole in the corner to draw in some of the finer details on the train. The only other items I used to finish off the cake were sprinkles, a Mike and Ike for the front headlight and Twizzlers for the train track below. Β IMG_2663IMG_2661IMG_2666And there you have it! The whole train cake creation process took us probably three hours total, including baking the cakes, but now that I’ve made one I feel like it would be much faster the next time. At least I have a full year now to start planning the theme and cake for the next birthday party!

xo,

Hillary

S’mores Dip

S’mores Dip

IMG_2759When I think of an All-American treat, I think of either apple pie or s’mores. I’ve shared a delicious carmel apple crisp in the past, but I have a new recipe that you will love. This s’mores dip is warm, gooey and very easy to make, especially when you don’t have access to a campfire for roasting marshmallows.

As a young child I remember that we would have a couple of campfires near the beach throughout the summer and always roast s’mores. As I’ve gotten older and busier we haven’t made the time for such a relaxing evening summer activity as much as I would like to. Plus, with how hot it was this summer and the immense amount of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, I have no desire to have a campfire right now.

So when my husband mentioned how much he would like to have a s’more the other night, I decided to make them but in a much simpler way. You only need a few ingredients and about 15 minutes to indulge in the perfect S’mores Dip!

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Ingredients:

1 bag of marshmallows

1 bag of chocolate chips

Graham crackers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom of a glass pan (I wouldn’t use a size bigger than an 8×8 inch pan, unless your making this dessert to serve more than four.) Place enough chocolate chips to just cover the bottom of the dish completely. On top of the chocolate chips place several marshmallows to cover the chocolate chips. Miniature or large-sized marshmallows will both work. Place in oven and bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven when marshmallow tops are golden brown and serve immediately with a side of graham crackers. Enjoy!

xo,

Hillary

 

Train Themed Birthday Party

Train Themed Birthday Party

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Yes, you read that correctly, I have a one year old! It’s so crazy to think that he is already that old but he is and we had so much fun recently celebrating his first birthday with family and friends.

I decided after much deliberation on a train theme for his birthday. I know I’ve mentioned on my blog before how much I love event planning and this was no exception. Planning and prepping for his birthday was almost as fun as the party itself. Let me know if you would like for me to do a separate blog post that focused on event planning tips in the comments below!

We held his party at a park since his birthday is in August and in Seattle most days are sunny and warm if not hot around this time of year. Not hosting it at our home meant for some extra planning and car trips back and forth hauling tables, food and chairs, but it was worth the effort to have the space and be outdoors.

Leading up to the party I planned out our menu, cake, decorations and what I wanted the event space layout to be. Having this all set before really helped the day of since we didn’t have a ton of time to get set up. I also pre-ordered the balloons to match with the purchased train themed items (plates, napkins, tablecloth) and made the food, cake and cupcakes the day before. I will be doing a separate blog post of the train cake that I made so check back soon for that.

For decorations I purchased a few train themed items and then did a few DIY projects as well. I made the two Railroad Crossing signs and they were super easy and inexpensive! I bought poster board from Hobby Lobby and then just had my husband use an exacto knife and cut the board into equal smaller pieces. I layered two pieces in an “X” shape to figure out how the lettering would work and then used a sharpie and wrote out Railroad Crossing on the two separate pieces. Once that was finished I used a hot glue gun to seal the two pieces together and that’s all it consisted of!

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I also took pictures of Carter each month showing his growth progression over his first year. It’s amazing to see how much he has changed in such a short period of time. I hung the photos just from some black ribbon in the tent so it was on display for everyone to see.

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The menu included: make-your-own pretzel bun sandwiches from the meat and cheese tray, fruit tray, veggie tray, pesto pasta salad, potato chips and train cake. I wanted items that were picnic focused but also easy to transport and eat.

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We had such a lovely time with our friends and family celebrating Carter. Happy Birthday!

xo

Hillary