The Bean’s 1st Birthday Bash

It seems only fitting that since it took about a month for me to post Keelin’s birth story after she was born, I should take even longer to share the deets on her 1st birthday celebration, right? {You like how I made that sound like it was a strategic decision and not a total inability to get my shiz together?}

Regardless of being super late sharing this with you, I’m so excited that it’s finally happening! Prepare yourself for adorable pictures, tips on how to throw a fun and inexpensive 1st birthday party, and even a fantastic SMASH CAKE recipe!

Because Keelin’s birthday is right around Christmas, a fact that people CONSTANTLY remind us of with snarky make-me-want-to-punch-you-in-the-throat comments like, “Oh, poor thing”, “I hope she doesn’t get gipped on presents”, or “Well that wasn’t very good planning on your part, was it?”, I knew I wanted to make a point of having a NON-CHRISTMAS themed party. But I also didn’t want to break the bank with fancy favors or decorations, so I decided that keeping things simple and having a few flashes of our Winter Wonderland theme would be plenty. Especially for a 1st birthday that she will never remember. Seriously parents, it’s all for us anyway. So here’s a layout of what we snagged for the event, which ended up hosting about 20 people.

Our party was at 6:00pm but we didn’t want the expense of providing a “full meal” and it was far too cold for the cheap-o option of burgers and dogs on the grill. So we decided to keep things simple and opted for “heavy” finger foods like chicken wings, meatballs, pig-in-a-blanket bites, etc. We also had veggies, fruits, cheese/crackers, and chips/dips to choose from. We snagged most of it from Costco which worked out great because we had plenty to feed the masses and enough left over to freeze and munch on later. I also busted out the homemade chocolate-dipped pretzel rods which were a huge hit. I normally do them as Christmas gifts for co-workers and friends, but since Keelin is my only ‘co-worker’ I decided to hold off and save them as a party treat.

Keeping with the wintery theme we had a yummy fruity “frosted” punch using raspberry sherbet and cranberry Ginger Ale. Cheap. Delicious. AND PINK!  Plus I also fired up the crock pot for some hot and spicy apple cider. Both were a huge hit. Since it was a kid’s party, and again to save money, we opted for a ‘dry’ night, although I’m pretty sure the hubs tapped into his own stash for a few friends toward the end of the evening.

NONE. Lame? Maybe. I had every intention of using left over Christmas tissue paper to make giant snow puffs similar to the ones in Keelin’s nursery. But combine lack of time, plus mommy brain, plus the sheer guilt that hit me when I thought about taking the tree down before the New Year, and they just didn’t get done. Since there was only 1 other little girl {I have no friends} I wasn’t too worried about making things ‘festive’  for the adults.  No one seemed to mind, and to be honest they were all too busy chatting and watching Keelin run around like a diva to worry about what the house looked like.  I did however, get a little cooky-crazy with some 90% off snowflake printed plates and napkins from JoAnn. WATCH OUT MARTHA STEWART! So yeah, outside of the Evite invitations, which also had a snowy-wintery theme, my dinnerware served as enough decoration for me.

Even before I’d gotten pregnant I thought about how much fun it would be to present my future kiddos with a smash cake to tear into on their 1st birthday. Obviously I wanted to have one for Keelin and I decided that I would make my own! While I could have just grabbed a box of cake mix from the grocery store, I wanted to get creative, save a little cash {sensing a theme?} and make something that wouldn’t send Keelin into a full-on sugar spaz. In other words I wanted something “healthier” that what your average bakery or cake mix generally doesn’t provide. So where did I turn to find the perfect smash cake recipe? The Blog-o-sphere of course. Thanks to the lovely Rachel at Our Havenhill, I found a simple, healthy, and DELICIOUS recipe for a smash cake. I made a tiny 2-tier birthday cake complete with cream cheese icing {ok not healthy, but the kid deserved a little treat on her birthday} and pink sprinkles.

Overall it was a wonderful party! Friends and family were there to celebrate with us, Keelin had a blast opening gifts playing with tissue paper and although she was a dainty little priss when it came to SMASHING into her smash cake, she LOVED her special treat. Here are a few snapshots from the day, because it’s fun to share joy. 🙂



Lessons learned from planning my first FIRST birthday party…
1. The KISS rule holds true for just about anything. Simplicity is key.
2. As long as friends and family are there to share in your celebration, nothing else really matters.
3. Do NOT turn to Pinterest for party inspiration unless you are rolling in dough. You will only feel poor and inadequate if you try to attempt any one of those EPIC party themes while on a tight budget.

Until next time…


I’ve never been a fan of diets, mostly because of the lack of sugary sweets. If you ask me, dessert isn’t a special addition to a meal, it’s a part of the meal. Z shares my love of sweets, so it’s been tough for him to say BYE BYE BYE to that last part of our meal. Especially when he has to sit next to me while I eat straight from my pint of Ben and Jerry’s. I’m so mean.

BUT, he didn’t give up and went on a search of a diet friendly dessert. Enter Dr. Mike’s POWER cookie! They aren’t the average cookie but they are quite tasty and friendly to your waste line.

Its a lengthy and unique list of ingredients… on the pricier side but you only use small amounts of each so it will last you for a long while!

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons almond paste
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
10 packets of Truvia
¼ cup agave nectar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup vanilla whey powder
2 cups oats
1 cup dried cherries
½ cup sliced almonds


Mix applesauce, almond paste, flaxseed oil, Truvia and agave nectar.

Add egg and vanilla.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and whey powder and slowly incorporate into egg mixture.

Stir in oats, almonds and cherries.

Spoon out evenly on non stick pan. its a sticky batter so don’t expect them to flatten to a ‘normal’ cookie shape.

Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.

ENJOY!!! These are actually the right amount of sweet to finish off a meal and are even great as a breakfast treat. Me and my sweet tooth approve.

Any ‘healthy’ desserts you feel good about ending your meal with?

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Chicken Cordon PUFF

The puffs are back! You may remember my recent PUFF phase where I talked about how anything  can be made more delicious by wrapping it in some kind of pastry, particularly crescent rolls.  The pizza puffs were exhibit A… this is exhibit B {finally}.

It’s super simple and super delicious… as all the best recipes should be. Allow me to introduce chicken cordon puff.

Mix 1 can of cream of chicken soup with shredded, cooked chicken breast, and your choice of seasoning.

Use the same Pizza Puff technique of pressing the crescent triangles together to form rectangles {ain’t geometry grand?} and layer thinly sliced ham and swiss cheese. Regular deli ham and cheese work great. Feel free to opt for your favorite flavor {smoked, honey, etc} and use as much as you’d like. Just be sure you don’t OVERSTUFF the puffs.

Layer the chicken/soup mixture on top of the ham and cheese and fold to form the puffs!

Bake according to the crescent instructions and serve with your favorite side. Hopefully something green to help boost your health quota for the day.

Ooey gooey delicious puffness.

Until next time…

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17 Day Diet: Pepper and Mushroom Chicken

This is another tasty and easy recipe from our 17-day diet list.

STEP No. 1

Marinate two boneless, skinless chicken breasts in 1 tsp olive oil, the juice of one lemon, chopped garlic and black pepper.


Prep your favorite veggies… I highly recommend onion, pepper, and mushrooms!

STEP No. 3:

Pan fry the chicken with non stick spray, dump the whole thing in the pan, juices, garlic and all.

STEP No. 4:

When chicken is done, transfer to plate, cover with foil and DO NOT clean pan, just add a bit of water to bring up the tasty browned bits from the bottom then add finely chopped onion and mushrooms.

Sautee until soft and the mushrooms release their moisture.

Season veggies with pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
Top your chicken with the mushrooms, add a generous side salad and enjoy!


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