Under the Sea Theme Birthday

IMG_6133My smallest just had her first birthday just a few days ago and over the last few weeks I’ve been prepping for her under the sea themed party.  For me party planning is incredibly enjoyable, I love all of the details that can make a party special.  I love the little touches and trying something new.  Since having baby #1 I have realized that a lot of things don’t happen the same way they did with #1, and it’s usually just logistics, the baby book for example, I filled it out for her first month of life.  Now, I have 11 months to catch up on.  I don’t know the date when her first tooth came in; or for that matter the other four.  It’s things like this that have slipped by.  Her first birthday party was not going to be one of those “things” that didn’t get the attention it deserved.

Her nursery theme was maps, globes and whales, so it only seemed fitting to use whales as a major part of the theme for her party.  The first thing I started to pour over was these incredibly cute little felt hats I have been seeing all over pinterest, most of Hat 1them are from Etsy and are about $18-$35, of course they are super cute, but for that amount of money you could get a ton of felt.  I think putting mine together with felt and ribbon cost about $1.50.  It did take some time to put it together, but the finished party hat was so worth it.  Normally, she cannot stand to wear hats or hoods, but she wore this hat, so cute.

The other fun little detail I saw, and fell in love with, were these amazing little felt animals, they were so incredibly cute, so I thought it would be fun felt animalsto try to make little animals and then use them later as some sort of mobile in her room.  Again the entire project was probably under $4, it just took a lot of time to cut and then sew, I am still learning how to sew and made quite a few mistakes.   I attempted little black button eyes, but they were creepy, so I took them off.  In the end I love how these turned out.  I used them to decorate the cupcake display during the party…so cute!    IMG_5790

There are so many inexpensive and cute ways to have a really fun, under the sea, mermaid or beach themed party.  Dollar store buckets were my bowls for the salads and chips.  They were also favors for the kids that came to the party.  It was also rather funny to watch people try to scoop out the food with the shovels, they made it work though.  The favors were different depending on the age of the petite, for the older kids it was bubbles, goldfish crackers and bathtub ocean animal water squirters.  For the babies, it was yogurt melts , bubbles and water squirters.

photo 2The food got lots of rave reviews, from the seashell caprese pasta salad, to the turtle shaped bread bowl of spinach dip but one of the crowd favorites was the crab croissant sandwiches.  I seriously have no idea how people threw themed parties before pinterest existed, so many amazing ideas that make it all so much fun.





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A delicious way to drink more water…just in time for summer.

Cucumber Basil Infused WaterI came across a picture on Pinterest a few days ago of a Ball Wide Mouth Water Infuser.  I immediately wanted one.  This is brilliant, we don’t normally drink out of mason jars in my house, but I have a ton of them from canning projects.  All I needed was to track down this infuser and lid.  I had been checking local markets and Target, but was out of luck.  I was at Walmart yesterday and sure enough in the canning aisle they had it.  It was $5.74.  Today I started to use it and am so incredibly happy I found it.

I don’t normally drink enough water, in fact I am pretty sure that I am dehydrated or close to it most of the time.  Having the opportunity to drink flavored water on a regular basis with items I have in my garden or fridge is just amazing and really cost-effective.  The Ball website even has suggestions for flavor pairings, today I have been enjoying cucumber basil and it’s amazing.  I wouldn’t have thought to pair those two together but it is really refreshing.  Here are some of the other options that they suggest:

Water Infusions

A couple of things, it doesn’t come with the jar, so you would need to have a wide mouth mason jar already or be willing to buy some.  Also, a rather fun note from Ball is that you can use the same fruits and herbs for up to 2-3 days as long as they stay submerged in water and you refrigerate when you’re not drinking it.

You can purchase these little beauties from Ball directly as well as Amazon, but they are more expensive than the one I purchased at Walmart yesterday.  Since the petite keeps taking mine when I am not looking, I suspect I will be buying another one soon.




Petite Stag Gumbo & The Princess and the Frog

IMG_5769Like most four-year olds, my petite is in love with all things Disney’s.  These days it is The Princess and the Frog.  At first we were a little worried about it since there is a creepy voodoo doctor and scary shadow creatures.  For good reason, we had a major problem with pesky shadows a few months ago that made our night-time routine more like a cardio workout (running up and down the stairs) than a relaxing time of night.  What I realize now, after watching Tiana quite a few time,s is that she is awesome!  She has goals, ambition and best of all brains!  My favorite line of the movie is when she is wishing on the evening star and her daddy tells her she needs to do more than wish on the star, that she can do anything she sets her mind to, and most importantly never ever lose sight of what is really important.  What a great message to send out to petites.

If you’ve read some of my other posts you will know that my petite loves to cook.  After watching Tiana for the first time she wanted to make gumbo.  Lucky for her, I have an amazing recipe that is one of my favorites.  So today, we declare is Gumbo & The Princess and the Frog day!  Hip Hip Hooray!

When we lived in the south I would go to the library all the time and check out cookbooks, my favorites were the ones that were from churches, you know those little ones with the plastic bindings that church ladies would put their prized family recipes into.  Love them.  I put together a recipe that has all of our favorite things in it…you can make it more Cajun with crab meat and oysters; or more Creole depending on if you prefer sausage or poultry.  I prefer them all so here is my version:

Petite Stag Gumbo

1/4 cup olive oil

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 sweet onion, Walla Walla or Vidalia, chopped

1 cup red bell pepper chopped

1 cup green pepper chopped

1 cup celery chopped

3 garlic cloves chopped

1 bag of frozen okra

4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon chicken base or bullion cube

1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes

3 cups of water

2 bay leavesphoto 1

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/3 cup dried parsley

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 chicken breast cut into cubes

1 Smoked Turkey Kielbasa (you can use beef, or Andouille if you prefer), cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 pound of shrimp, cleaned and deveined


  1. Mix oil and flour in a large cast iron pot or stock pot.  On medium heat, stirring constantly, you are looking for a light brown color, a caramel shade.  Don’t just leave it, once it starts to brown it goes quickly and can burn.  [If it burns or gets too dark, throw it out and clean the pot and start over, it will ruin the gumbo if you don’t]
  2. Add the onion, peppers, celery and garlic to the roux and cook stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
  3. Slowly add in the chicken stock while stirring, it will begin to thicken nicely.
  4. Add in the chicken base, water, can of tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, lemon pepper, Worcestershire, frozen okra, chicken and sausage.
  5. Simmer on low for 1 hour 30 minutes.photo 2
  6. Add shrimp just before you plan to serve it to get them cooked through adding in the last ten minutes.

Serve over rice

I’m not going to lie, it is even better the second day, the spices do some amazing thing and meld together making it even more delicious.