Wedding Shortbread Cookie Recipe

This is a big week for me: Monday was my 30th birthday and today is my wedding anniversary! I am so very blessed to have spent the last 8 years married to this handsome man:

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Our wedding was a simple affair–it kind of had to be since we were broke and young and Pinterest hadn’t been invented yet. We held the ceremony and reception in a waterfront park in our college town (again, we kind of had to–we graduated 2 days before our wedding and didn’t have time to get out of town). Our family and friends did all of the grunt work and hard labor when it came time for us to walk down the aisle–and that, of course, meant that they handled the food. If you know me at all, you know that food is, shall we say, a dominant force in my life. So the food had to be good. REALLY good.

Now, good doesn’t have to mean elaborate or fussy or over the top (because our wedding was none of those things). It really just has to taste amazing. One of my favorite treats that we had at our wedding was an arrangement of shortbread cookies made by my dear friend Vickie. They are similar to sugar cookies, but a bit smoother and flakier than your traditional Christmas sugar cookie. These cookies only have 5 ingredients, and they come together in minutes–super simple. What could be better than a simple, delicious, elegant cookie? Not much, really. So, in honor of our anniversary today, I hope you enjoy this little treat from our wedding. Cheers!

Wedding Shortbread Cookies

1 pound butter
1 Cup powdered sugar
3 Cups flour
3/4 Cups corn starch
sugar for topping (plain or colored decorating sugar work equally well)

1. Stir powdered sugar, flour and corn starch together in a large bowl.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter. Slowly add the flour mixture to the creamed butter. Keep mixing until a soft dough forms.
3. Divide the dough into 4 parts and roll each part into a ball. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4. Take out one ball dough at a time. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured surface and use cookie cutters or an upside down cup to cut out shapes (our cookies were heart-shaped).
5. Bake cookies at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the edges of cookies turn golden.

Happy (30th) Birthday To Me!

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Whelp. It’s here. Today I turn 30–THE BIG 3-0! This seems like quite the milestone, so I felt like I should devote a post here to my thoughts on entering a new decade of life. I’ve had a lot of people asking me if I’m nervous about turning 30. Contrary to what some people may expect, I’m actually quite excited about it. The truth is, I’ve been waiting a long time for this birthday!

This will just go to show what a precocious child I was, but I have dreamed of this day since I was a little girl. I remember driving somewhere with my mom–I was about 5 years old–and I was frustrated about something that I couldn’t do yet (I don’t remember exactly what it was–maybe it was being able to drive a car, or getting to choose the radio station or, most likely, having the authority to tell someone younger than me what they should or should not do). At any rate, I was feeling rather remorse and I asked my mom how old she was. “33,” she told me. That’s it, I decided–once I reach that age, I will have it made. And from that moment on I have dreamed of being in my 30’s.

Some people associate this magic age with being “old”–it seems like every woman just wants to remain in her 20’s forever (like a certain friend of mine who, on every birthday, says “I’m 29 for the __th time”). I remember seeing an episode of Friends where Rachel turned 30 and it was such a big deal–they acted like she was dying or something! For me, though, it’s just the opposite. Gone are my 20’s when I had to worry about passing college exams, getting that cute boy in the front row to notice me, and start a career. I am moving on now to bigger and better things.

I feel like I have finally hit my prime. My body is strong–I’m even running a half-marathon this weekend to prove to myself that I’ve still got “it”. I have everything I could possibly want at this point in my life–a loving husband, two beautiful babies, wonderful friends, and a comfortable home to share life with my loved ones. And life just keeps getting more exciting–with our Big Move coming up shortly I don’t even know what my life will look like a year from now. And I think that’s amazing–that at 30 years old I can have both stability and adventure, the known paired with the unknown.

So, happy 30th birthday to me. Little 5-year old Allison, you can stop waiting for better days. They have arrived. Carpe diem.

DIY iDad Father’s Day/Birthday Card For A Tech-Savvy Dad

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My kids are incredibly lucky. They have an amazing daddy who loves them with all of his heart. He does so much for all of us, and I want to make sure that he knows how much we appreciate him.

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With Father’s Day coming up, I decided to make him an extra-special one-of-a-kind card that is suited just to him. Jon is, shall we say, a “techy” guy. He is an electrical engineer, so all things technology-oriented are right up his alley. He loves gadgets–and he loves no other gadgets more than his iDevices. This week I counted up the Apple devices currently in use in our house and we have 13 of them. THIRTEEN! Yes, the man loves his iThings. Nothing seemed more appropriate, then, than an Apple-inspired Father’s Day card.

I call this the “iDad” (kinda looks like an iPad…hehe!). This is not a totally original idea, but I thought it would make a cute Father’s Day (or birthday!) card. Here’s the how-to if you want to give it a try:

DIY iDad Father’s Day Card

Materials:
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  • 2 pieces each of black and white cardstock (Or you can do a cardstock hack like I did. I just printed off two black rectangles from my computer and glued them to old file folders. I glued plain white computer paper to the back side of the file folders and cut them out so that one side was black and the other side was white.)
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Xacto knife or box cutter (and a cutting mat or other cutting surface, NOT your nice dining room table!)
  • white crayon or colored pencil
  • standard white glue and/or spray adhesive glue
  • app icons (I printed mine from this site. I just did a Google search for app icons and looked under images–there were lots of pictures to choose from. I also printed off some small photos of Jon and the boys that I cut down to the same size as the app icons.)

Directions:

  • Glue your black and white cardstock back-to-back so one side is black and the other side is white. I used spray adhesive glue for this because it dries quickly, sticks better, and leaves no wrinkles, but standard glue would work just fine. After the glue has dried, cut each piece down to the same size (whatever size you want your card to be).
  • Cut out the app icons you want to use and arrange them on top of one piece of black cardstock. I used 12 app icons on my card. Once you have them set up how you like them, glue each app icon into place.
  • Use the white crayon to draw the home button under the app icons. If you want to, you can also put an apple on the other piece of black cardstock (I happened to have apple stickers lying around from one of our many Apple product purchases).
  • Using an xacto knife, cut down the sides and bottom of each app icon so you can lift them from the bottom like a tab (do NOT cut the top of the app icon).
  • After you have cut each app icon into a tab, glue the two pieces of cardstock together back-t0-back so the black side is showing on each side. Make sure you don’t put any glue on the back of the app icons! Put something heavy on top of the card and let it dry flat for a few hours.
  • After your card is dry, lift each app icon tab and write a little Father’s Day sentiment. Under my tabs I wrote things like “Happy Father’s Day” (for the notes app), “We love you!” (for the photo of Jon with our boys), “You’re off the charts!” (for a stock quote app), and “Father’s Day: June 16, 2013” (for the calendar app).

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  • Present your card to Dad and watch his little techy heart melt!
The "iDad" card next to a real iPad. Can you tell which is which? :)

The “iDad” card next to a real iPad. Can you tell which is which? 🙂

To all of you amazing father’s out there, thank you for all that you do! Enjoy your special day, dads!

Welcome, Readers of “This Beautiful Frugal Life”!

Today we published my first guest post over at This Beautiful Frugal Life (*Note* It appears that she’s having some technical difficulty with the site today, so if my link doesn’t work, just go to the home page on This Beautiful Frugal Life and scroll down a few posts to “10 tips for flying with young kids”). I am so excited that I get to share a bit of my experience and my writing with TBFL readers! If this is your first time visiting Love, Teach Grow, welcome, and I hope you enjoy reading about my journey through motherhood.

If you would like more information about traveling with children, you may want to check out my 4-part series called Traveling With Bebe. Part 1 is an introduction to our trip out to Ireland, Part 2 covers pre-travel arrangements and packing, Part 3 has tips on getting through the airport, and Part 4 has tips and activities to get you through your flight.

If you would like to be updated when I post new content, click on the “Follow” button in the black bar at the top of this page.

Thank you for visiting, and happy reading!

My Summer Bucket List

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Ahhhhhh…summer. It really is the most wonderful time of the year. I may be a bit biased because up until about 2 years ago I had spent my whole life in school (as either a student or a teacher) so summer has always just been the thing I looked forward to all year. Now that I have kids, though, I’m more excited for summer than ever before. Again, I may be a bit biased–as a stay-at-home mom in rainy Seattle I really can’t wait to get the kids outside and finally do something.

A few months ago I made a spring bucket list. I’m happy to report that I have checked off every item from that list…except for two: “plant something” and “fix our yard” (I knew those were bad ideas even as I was writing them. In my defense, though, I did buy a potted basil plant from Trader Joe’s and it’s still alive. I also have managed to keep the dog poop mostly picked up from our back yard, so that’s kinda like fixing the yard, too.). My favorite discovery from my spring bucket list was visiting new parks in our area. I found a lovely gem a few miles away with a wetland boardwalk and a large playground–we’ve already spent several afternoons exploring there.

Now it’s time to see what summer has to offer. This summer will be different from any other that I’ve ever experienced as we’ll be moving to Ireland in July. But what would summer be without a healthy dose of adventure mixed in? Here’s a bit of what I’m planning for this season:

  • Build sand castles at the beach
  • Climb a real castle (yay, Ireland!)
  • Pick fresh berries from a U-pick farm
  • Ride the car ferry over to Whidbey Island or the Olympic Peninsula for a day trip
  • Catch the ice cream man
  • Take in some free children’s concerts in the park
  • Throw a killer first birthday party for my little Jacob!
  • Walk down Alki Beach and pretend like I’m in California
  • Take in a firework show
  • Get a pedicure so my feet look cute in flip flops
  • Eat a picnic dinner in a park
  • Watch an outdoor movie
  • Take the free ferry over to Jetty Island for some play time at the warm water beach
  • Make our own Popsicles and eat them outside
  • Play in the kiddie pool we have hidden under our deck
  • Play with sidewalk chalk
  • See a parade (be in a parade?!)
  • Take David to a baseball game
  • Barbecue. Lots and lots of BBQ.
  • NOT get a sunburn
  • Go bowling (kids bowl free in the summer!)
  • Walk barefoot in the sand
  • Borrow my parents’ stand-up paddle boards and get out on the water
  • Read books with my kids outside under the trees
  • Go to a farm
  • Go hiking
  • Watch a beautiful sunset
  • Fly a kite
  • Swim
  • Roast marshmallows over a fire
  • Go to the fair
  • Run through the sprinkler
  • Play mini golf
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Play with water balloons
  • Blow bubbles
  • Make ice cream in a bag
  • Rest (I don’t know how I’ll have time to fit that one in with all of these other fun ideas, but it seems like it would be a good idea!)

What are some of your favorite summertime activities? I’d love some fresh ideas!

Ireland, Here We Come!

!o-irelandWell,friends, it’s actually happening–we finally have everything we need for our move. Our visas came through about 2 weeks ago but, due to a family emergency, we put everything for the move on hold for awhile. Jon went back to work this week and got the proverbial ball rolling again. He will be going out to Ireland June 24-28 to sign a lease on our house, set up a local bank account, look into leasing a car, and just getting things generally set for us to move. We will have to see what the terms are for the lease that he signs, but if the house we want is available right away we will try to be in Ireland by July 8th.

This, of course, means that it’s crunch time for us to get everything ready now. I made about a dozen appointments today: the vet, a house cleaner, the dog groomer, dentists, doctors. I really don’t even know where to start with the whole packing situation. Since we won’t know if we are getting a furnished or unfurnished house until Jon signs a lease, it’s kinda difficult to know what all will stay and what will go. Jon is meeting with the moving company this week to get things sorted out, so hopefully they’ll be able to help us out. In the meantime, I will attempt to throw things into boxes in a somewhat organized manner.

This whole move has been such an on-again, off-again ordeal that I’m relieved to know things are moving forward. Now, to get through the chaos of the next month!

10 Tips For Eating Out At A Restaurant With A Toddler

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My husband and I love trying new restaurants. We enjoy spending hours upon hours conversing over plates of pasta and a bottle of wine. We used to go out all the time, back when it was–you know–just the two of us.

Now we have two little boys and, quite honestly, going out to eat has lost a lot of its charm. Instead of conversing over plates of pasta and a bottle of wine, it’s more like we’re covered in plates of pasta and listening to our kids whine. Difficult as it is to bring the wild banshees–er, children–out to a restaurant, it can still be a rewarding experience. Dining out allows children to experience new foods, develop their dining etiquette, and (let’s not forget) give mom a break from cooking dinner.

With a 2 1/2-year old and a 10-month old baby we’ve developed some tried-and-true strategies for getting through (and even enjoying!) our meals out. Here are my top 10 tips:

  1. Choose where you’re going ahead of time. Make a reservation and review the menu online before you arrive so you can order as soon as you’re seated. Minimal waiting time with a squirrely child = a very good thing.
  2. Choose a family-friendly restaurant. You’ll know you’re in the right place if there are ample high chairs, paper place mats with crayons, easy-to-wipe-up flooring, and kids climbing on the booths. Bonus points if there are balloons available.
  3. Don’t go out to eat with your toddler during peak dining times. Try to hit the early bird special so you’re able to order, get your food, and get out of there quickly.
  4. Feed your child a snack before you go to the restaurant, and bring along extras to eat while you’re waiting for your meals to arrive. Even if you don’t end up eating your snack stash, you’ll be glad you had it if it’s taking an extra-long time for the kitchen to get your order out.
  5. Consider splitting a meal with your toddler rather than ordering him his own. I find that my son is usually so excited by the whole restaurant experience that he doesn’t eat as much when we’re out. Then I get bummed that I wasted $6 on a meal that he barely even touched (Hey, that $6 would have been better spent on a margarita for me!).
  6. Bring along your own entertainment. Books, crayons, Play-doh, and a magna doodle usually work well for us.
  7. Opt for a booth if you’re given the option. I find that they are easier to contain children in than chairs. Another good option is to sit outside where the kids can move around a bit more freely (and where messes are a bit easier to clean up).
  8. Tip your server well. Chances are, you are not the easiest table she’s had tonight. Maybe if you treat the staff well they’ll even invite you back some day!
  9. Bring along some back-up. This may be a great opportunity to invite Grandma and Grandpa out for a nice dinner–especially if they enjoy walking around a restaurant with a squirmy 2-year old so you can finish your entree while it’s still warm.
  10. Bring your patience! Dining out with a toddler is no walk in the park, but hopefully you’ll all make it through the meal in one piece.

Eat on, my friends, eat on!