September 28, 2014

Tyler's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party

My baby turned three in August. I'll have to regale you about life with a three year old another time. Today I'm chatting about the party before I forget the details.

Unlike last year, I knew pretty early on (like April) that we were throwing Ty a birthday party this year. I also knew that he was getting to be old enough to have a little input. And that it would come down to either Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Jake. Considering my nephews (the Wonder Twins) had just had a Jake party in February, Mickey it was. Our house was temporarily turned into Tyler's Clubhouse and we all had a blast.

Lets start with the food. The food table always goes in the dining room, and you can kind of see the cardboard standup I found online (here) that provided a fun backdrop for the food.

The centerpiece of the spread were Hot Diggity Dogs, a mini hotdog bar filled with beef hotdogs and bratwurst sausages. Ketchup, mustard, spicy mustard (for the brats), saurkraut, chili, and relish were the topping options. We rounded out the meal with Minnie's Bowtie Pasta Salad, Pluto's Potato Salad, Birthday Baked Beans, Donald's Deviled Eggs, and Goofy's Grapes and Melon.

Drinks included Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy (aka lemonade), along with Capri Suns and small bottles of water.

For dessert we had Clubhouse Cupacakes and Sugar Cookies. The cupcakes are vanilla-vanilla (naturally), with cupcake toppers and wrappers made using my Silhouette and cardstock.  Decorated sugar cookies are one of my most favorite things to make, and I gotta admit that these cookies turned great.

Really cute, right? Even better, they tasted as good as they looked. Just almondy and delicious.

For (unlabeled) favors, I packaged up some sugar cookies and displayed them along with some noisemakers. In case you're wondering, the favor tags would've said "Thanks for Celebrating Tyler's 3rd Birthday! See Ya Real Soon!" Either way they were easy and effective. I've already mostly let it go that I didn't get those favor tags designed in time.

Deliciously prepared and presented food will always happen at one of my parties. Decorations? Eh, some years they're better than others. This year I approached decor the way I approach the food...and recruited some assistants (Thanks Auntie Naima and Auntie Rachel!) to decorate. We had wall hangings, balloons, things from the ceilings. Ty woke up from his nap and was transported to his own clubhouse!

Behind us, you can see our Pin the Nose on Mickey game. When it was time to play, we'd gathered all the kids around and realized we "didnt have what we needed to play the game." After an enthusiastic "OH TOOOOOODLES!" Toodles, via Auntie Rachel, delivered the Mickey noses we needed to play the game. Three year olds are surprisingly willing to blindfold themselves, spin around, and stumble around in the dark. It was hilarious.

After the game there were cupcakes to eat, presents to open, and general shenanigans to get into. According to Ty, it was his birthday almost every day for the remainder of the month. He graciously let Daddy's birthday be Daddy's birthday. The decorations finally came down right before Labor Day and while he was a little sad, he still talks about how much fun he had at his party. I'd call that a complete and utter success.

Until next year's (hopefully outside) party...

xo, Patti

March 18, 2014


A few days ago I got an email from a guy in my old graduate program wanting to discuss the "other path." He's not really finding his groove post grad and trying to see what his other options are. 

See, people with PhDs in social psychology usually do one thing: become an academic. Usually they do a term as a post doc after  graduation and pick up an entry level teaching position, tenure track if they're lucky, and work work work their asses off to research, teach, and PUBLISH. 

I'm very lucky in that I found a career that let's me use what I picked up in grad school without having to, you know, be a professor. But I also became open to the idea of a non-academic career pretty early in my graduate career. I get the feeling he's really struggling with his next move because being an academic was his plan. Now he needs to either course correct or start from scratch. 

Ultimately I told him about what I do, how I got into it (spoiler: I applied as a total fluke), and let him know that were conveniently hiring right now. I also offered to chat more about it whenever he'd like. 

Cause when you're thinking about changing sides, it's nice to know someone who already plays for the other team. 

xo, Patti

September 1, 2013

Rise Up

Disclaimer: I don't watch football. I barely pay attention during game parties or follow along with game goings ons. Generally, I'm more interested in the nibblies. And if anything I'm a Cowboys fan by marriage. At least that's what my NFL paraphernalia suggests.

I am not a Falcon's fan*, but I am a Samuel L. Jackson fan. And an Atlanta fan. The first time I saw this even I got hyped. With my non-football watching self.

Falcons. Falcons rise up!

xo, Patti

August 30, 2013

Bangs, Plans, and Suggestion

Do any of y'all watch that Supermarket Superstar show? I've been watching it for weeks and I've only seen a couple of products that I'd be willing to buy. 
We've officially started potty training Ty. It's going as well as you might expect...which is not really well at all. Pray for us. 
Today was hairdresser day. And I spent a few hours in the office. Dani told me that I couldn't call it a day off if I went in to work. So hairdresser day it is. Much better than dentist day (which also happened). 
Definitely want to try a real menu plan for September  rather than my usually "wing it" plan. Including planned dinners out once a week. I think we can definitely do it. 
I've had bangs for 6 weeks (or so) and I still love them. 
I really need to make a Joann's run before this coupon expires. Maybe I'll go tomorrow during Ty's nap. 
J has partially convinced me that we should buy a new washer and dryer with our tax refund this year. And Ansel has convinced me that I can handle tiling a backsplash. Evidently I'm in a suggestive mood today LOL. 

xo, Patti

August 29, 2013

Possibly Ignoring the Call

Sometimes I wonder if I'm ignoring my calling by not baking for a living.

Lemme back up. Today I tried a new bakery. She mostly makes cupcakes, but I saw on her Facebook that she does other things - dessert tables, regular sized cakes, cookies - too. She also evidently won on Cupcake Wars. The bakery is right next to our favorite pizza joint, and she's been open about 3 months. I randomly saw it on Saturday (while picking up pizza, duh), and vowed to stop in soon. 

Anyway, Ty and I stopped in today and once I was told that cupcakes were about $3 each, I realized I was only willing to part with a $10 bill. That meant 3 picks:
  • Vanilla Vanilla | A natural choice. My favorite and litmus test for any baker/bakery.
  • Lemon | One of J's favorites.
  • Chocolate Chocolate | It looked good
Yes, she had some other more contemporary flavors (think: brownie base with candied pecans and caramel peanut butter icing with a caramel swirl) and red velvet (totally overhyped in my opinion) but I generally prefer a more classic cupcake.

Anyway, after eating these cupcakes and subsequently critiquing the hell out of them apart, I can't help but wonder why a good cupcake is still so hard to find?! Is it too much for the cake to be light and fluffy with a moist crumb and my butter cream to be light and not overly sweet? And what is with these cupcakes (not just hers, a couple others I can think of offhand) that taste like they're full of preservatives?!

Maybe I'm just picky. Or maybe I'm not really satisfied unless I'm eating my own cupcakes. Its possible that I should be baking for a living and I'm ignoring my calling. I'll give you that.

Just because my family, friends, coworkers (and J's coworkers) enjoy my baked goods, I'm not at all convinced that I could turn it into a business. Plus, I'm also not sure that I'd still love baking when I was depending on it to cover my part of the household expenses.

I've always said that if I ever got out of research, I'd do something creative. But since I'm still in research, now is not that time.

Not yet.

xo, Patti

March 22, 2013

Friday Five: Lasts

Babs does these and the promts always seem so easy and low-pressure.
  1. At a gathering of your usual social group, who’s almost certain to show up last? Probably me. With my work girlfriends I'm always the one who has to check the email real quick or go in the bathroom. Rarely do we have a hard stop and start time with our lunches - which is a blessing.
  2. Of chores that must be done this weekend, which will you probably complete last, and why? Putting away the laundry. I generally get it clean but it takes forever to get it all put away. On top of that, its time to transition Ty out of his current wardrobe which is never fun. It'll take weeks to get the clothes all sorted and situated.
  3. Some TV remote controls have a “last” button. If you were to turn your TV on now and hit the “last” button on the remote, which channel would you be taken to? ESPN/NFL network or some other sports channel. Hubs, not me (but you already knew that).
  4. Your task is to try one scoop of ice cream per day until every one of thirty-one flavors is consumed. Which do you save for last? Oooh, either a cookies-n-cream or something with caramel mixed in.
  5. When did you last have an awful meal in a restaurant? Hmm, I honestly can't remember. Maybe I've blocked out the experience?
Thanks to Friday 5 for the prompts and for bringing me back to the blog.

xo, Patti

December 19, 2012

About our 2012 card...

I'm sure you're surprised to see me back again today (that makes two of us), but I wanted to share a little more about this year's holiday card before I totally forgot.

For starters, all the images were snapped by the lovely Rachel Melton. Yes, she's the same lady that does all of Ty's pro photos. In fact, at the end of the session, Ty hugged her - so cute. I guess he figured our session was like catching up with an old friend (...who moonlights as the paparazzi - lol). We feel the same way.

As far as location, we took a gamble on a location neither of us had ever been to - Cascade Springs Nature Preserve. My main reason for choosing it was that it was close. Like a 15-20 minute drive. What I didn't anticipate was how lovely and fall-y the park would be. And that there would be several cute nature-y spots for us to snap pics. Okay, obviously I didn't have any expectations - I figured a park is a park, and a close park is even better. This one totally exceeded expectations, and we were in and out in a jiff.

I've been trying to step it up a bit sartorially (I don't want to totally let myself go), so I put some extra effort into figuring out wardrobe. J's outfit required the least amount of thought. New jeans, a cardi, loafers, done. Ty's outfit came together pretty organically. Picked up the old man sweater at ON while shopping with Naima, the pants - a gift from his aunt, that coat - a clearance (!) buy at BabiesRUs. None of the items were purchased with the intention of wearing them together. It just happened that way. But my outfit? I recruited some help from a childhood stylist friend. I wanted to look like I belonged but look a little different (since I'm the only girl). The fact that J likes me in pink is a bonus. I loved the way the clothes turned out. We don't match, we coordinate.

[card design]
Normally I pick a design off Etsy (usually <$16) and print them myself at Walgreens. While not a ton of work, this year I opted to buy the printed cards (rather than just the design) instead. Best decision ever. I learned about Brightside Prints thru one of my favorite shelter blogs The House of Smiths, and used the promo code for their readers to save 10%. The only thing I had to do was purchase my design, send the images, work with the designer on customization (they'll change whatever - I added text to the front and back), and approve the proofs. Plus, it was actually a really good value considering I got front AND back images for less than it would cost for my favorite Etsy designer to do my cards and prints. But the best part was the time. I got our image disc from Rachel on 11/23 and placed my order that same day. I had my cards in hand on 11/29. Awesomesauce.

So yeah, I think thats all I wanted to say about that. Oh, and that despite having the cards in hand, it was still a full week (or more) before I got them in the mail. Blame the 4-week sickness.

xo, Patti