Friday, June 15, 2018

The Ultimate First Birthday Gift Guide


Deciding what to get your child for their first birthday can sometimes be difficult. When people asked me what the girls wanted/needed for their first birthday, my first answer would usually be "Nothing. They have everything they could possibly need." Because it was true. I couldn't think of anything that they needed. Plus I did not like the thought of having a whole bunch of new toys laying around the house for a 1 year old that could barely use them.

After two little ones, I've decided that the best first birthday gifts are the ones that can be used and enjoyed for years to come, and each of these items on this list fall into this category.

1. Cozy Coupe
This one is a classic and one that a little one year old can enjoy just as much as a 5 year old.
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Little Tikes Cozy Coupe

2. Cotton rocking chair
Each of my girls have a chair similar to this and they LOVE them. They pull them up next to each other to watch a movie, color in coloring books or read. These comfy and adorable chairs are the perfect addition to a little reading nook or play area.
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Becky Kids Rocking Chair

3. Wagon
Because every kid needs a wagon! Wagons are so cool these days with bucket seats, canopies, and cup holders. They even have seat belts for that squirmy one year old that wants to climb out. These are perfect for strolling around the neighborhood, or you can easily fold it up, toss it in the car, and take it with you wherever you need to go.
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Radio Flyer EZ Folding Wagon

4. Rocking Elephant
We have this exact elephant rocker and my girls have always enjoyed hopping on it and rocking their hearts out. There are several animals besides elephants to choose from, so you're sure to find the perfect fit for your child!
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Rockabye Elephant Rocker

5. Stride & Ride Lion
These are great when they are learning how to walk because you can put the handle up and they can push it around. They can also feed it treats and push the buttons to listen to songs. My girls still love their Stride & Ride Puppy that Raley got for her first Christmas when she was just 3 months old! (That was almost 5 years ago! Excuse me while I go cry now)
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Fisher Price Stride & Ride Lion

6. Water table
This water table is another one that never gets old. For some reason kids just love these little tables!
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Little Tikes Waterpark Play Table


7. Sprinkler
I actually gifted this exact sprinkler to my cousin's little boy for his first birthday. I remember thinking sprinklers were the best thing ever when I was little, so I know kids would love playing with this! It's especially great if you don't have a pool and would like a way to cool off on those hot summer days.
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Melissa and Doug sprinkler

8. Pop-up toy
These are a classic and babies love them. It's fun to watch their reaction as they pop up and to watch them learn over time what the animals are called and the noises they make.
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Fisher Price Pop Up Toy

9. Chunky Puzzles
It always amazes me how quickly kids catch on to puzzles. While they may not be able to complete these puzzles at a year old, like the pop-up toy, it's so fun and satisfying to watch them learn how to match the pictures and learn the animals names and sounds. We have so many of these chunky puzzles and I think they are the best learning tool for little minds!
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Melissa and Doug Wooden Chunky Puzzle

10. Teepee
Teepee's are all the rage right now...and I can see why. I would have LOVED one of these as a kid. For some reason kids love being inside/under things (which is why forts are so much fun), so having a teepee that you can climb inside and play, read, color, or take a nap in is a dream come true!
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Teepee for kids


11. Baby doll + Accessories
I just love these soft body baby dolls, and so do my girls. They are perfect for little one-year-olds to snuggle with and they will still love taking care of them years down the road. This baby doll stroller is great for them to push around when they learn to walk. It's so cute to watch little girls pretend to be little mommies.
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Soft body baby doll

The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Baby Doll Stroller

12. Swing
If you have a spot to hang it, these swings are great! We don't have a spot at our house, but my parents have 3 of them at theirs for the grandkids and they all want to swing at the same time.
The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.
Little Tikes Snug 'n Secure Swing

13. Precious Moments Keepsake
I love these little Precious Moments trains because it's something you can add on to each year for years down the road. Raley has the Disney Princess train and Audrey has the animal train. At first it wasn't their favorite gift to get because they couldn't play with it, but now Raley (4) looks forward to which princess she'll get next and gets excited about adding it to her train.
Precious Moments Happy Birthday Train (1st birthday lamb)
Precious Moments Disney Princess Train

14. Experiences
Another idea for first birthday or Christmas gifts are experiences - memberships to a local botanical garden, children's museum, aquarium, or zoo, tickets to an event, carousel or train passes at a local mall, passes to an indoor play area like Let's Play. I've spoken about it here before, but I can't say it enough - these are some of my favorite gifts because it allows us to get out and do fun things without having to pay admission each time. Great idea if you want to avoid getting too much "stuff."


If you have a baby with a birthday coming up, I hope that this list will give you some ideas of items that could be used and enjoyed for years to come. (Keep them in mind for Christmas as well!)

Let's Chat!
What are your favorite first birthday gift items? Do your kids have any of these?

If you liked this post, you may also like:
Gift ideas that are NOT toys
Favorite Toys - Ages 4 and 1.5 (gift ideas for an older child)
12 Newborn Essentials (baby shower gift ideas for the expecting mother)

*This post contains affiliate links. If something is ordered using one of the links provided I will receive a small percentage of the sale. All opinions are my own and I am not being paid to review these products.

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The ultimate first birthday gift guide. The best birthday gifts are the ones that they'll love for years and years. Perfect list of 1st birthday gift ideas that your baby will love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe

When a baby shower gives you lemons, you make lemonade...and lots of other tasty treats too! 
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe. Lemon cupcakes with strawberry puree buttercream frosting. Beautiful summer dessert

This past weekend I hosted a yellow and white baby shower for my best friend April and used lemons as part of the decor (if you missed it, you can find the details here. It turned out beautifully!) I found that it was much cheaper to buy a bunch of bags of real lemons than to buy fake ones (I'm talking a bag of 8 fake lemons at Michael's was $12.99!)

What was I to do with all these extra lemons? I wasn't going to throw them in the trash! So I decided to bake up a bunch of yummy desserts and make a big ol' pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade! I will be posting the recipes one at a time, so be sure to check back in the next week or so for more!
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe. Lemon cupcakes with strawberry puree buttercream frosting. Beautiful summer dessert

Today I'm sharing these beautiful and delicious strawberry lemonade cupcakes. The lemon cupcakes are oh so easy to make and the strawberry buttercream frosting is whippy (is that a word?) and the perfect amount of sweet. The cupcakes are adapted from a box of white cake mix, but the other ingredients are different from what's on the back of the box (don't bake as directed on the box! Follow the instructions below.) 
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe. Lemon cupcakes with strawberry puree buttercream frosting. Beautiful summer dessert

I like these cupcakes because they don't have a bam-hit-you-in-the-face lemon flavor. I LOVE lemons (I could cut them up and eat it by the slice), but for some reason when it comes to lemon desserts I prefer a more mild flavor.
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe. Lemon cupcakes with strawberry puree buttercream frosting. Beautiful summer dessert

I hope that you enjoy these cupcakes! They're even better with a glass of fresh strawberry lemonade!

Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Ingredients

Lemon cupcakes
  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • zest from 3 small lemons
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 small lemons) 

Strawberry buttercream frosting
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1.5 tbsp milk

Instructions

Lemon cupcakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
2. Sift cake mix into large bowl 
3. Add oil, sour cream and milk to cake mix and mix until smooth in a stand mixer with whisk attachment or with hand mixer
4. Add lemon zest and lemon juice and mix until just combined (be sure to strain the seeds and lemon chunks out of the freshly squeezed juice before adding to cake mix.)
5. Add eggs one at a time and mix well between each
6. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full (about 1/4 cup - these cupcakes do not rise much)
7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted
8. Remove from oven and let sit for 2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and let them cool completely before frosting

Strawberry Buttercream
1. Puree strawberries in blender or food processor
2. Heat pureed strawberries in saucepan on low-medium heat until boiling. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat and let sit until completely cooled
4. Once strawberry sauce is cooled, strain into a separate bowl to remove chunks and seeds.
5. In stand mixer beat butter until smooth and fluffy
6. Add 1 cup powdered sugar to butter and mix well
7. Mix in half of pureed strawberries
8. Add another cup powdered sugar, then remaining strawberries, then final cup of powdered sugar, mixing well between each addition
9. Add milk and continue to mix until frosting is the consistency that you want (the frosting will be whippy)
10. Add frosting to piping bag with desired piping tip and pipe in circular motion onto completely cooled cupcakes (I used a 16 inch piping bag and a Wilton 1M Open Star piping tip) 


Yeild: 24 cupcakes
Frosting for 24+ cupcakes (I had more than enough)
Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe. Lemon cupcakes with strawberry puree buttercream frosting. Beautiful summer dessert

You may also like:
Strawberry Icebox Cake



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Strawberry Lemonade Cupcake Recipe. Lemon cupcakes with strawberry puree buttercream frosting. Beautiful summer dessert recipe



Sunday, June 10, 2018

Yellow + White "You Are My Sunshine" Baby Shower Brunch

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting a baby shower brunch for my best friend April, with the help of some of her family and friends. April has a 3 year old son and is expecting her first girl(!). She has no idea what fun and sweetness that is in store for her with a little girl! I couldn't be more excited for her to get to experience both [gender] worlds.

April has never been a big fan of pink. She told me a couple months ago, when we were talking about the baby's nursery, that she did not want anything pink in her nursery. So I thought uh-oh, that means I should probably avoid pink at her shower! I was a little stumped at first because I've never planned a baby shower for a little girl with ZERO pink. I brainstormed for a bit and ended up deciding on a "You are my sunshine" theme because I could incorporate lots of yellow and white, plus the baby will be born in the summer time so it seemed perfect!

While scouring Pinterest for ideas, I didn't really like what I was coming across in the "You are my sunshine" category. It all seemed more like a child's birthday party, not a pretty, elegant baby shower. What I was picturing in my mind was much different than what I was seeing on Pinterest, so I decided to go a different "sunshine" route and use lemons, white accents, yellow and green flowers, and galvanized metal stands and vases. 
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Sunshine yellow, white and green baby shower banner

I absolutely loved how everything came together.  The yellow and white gives you the feeling of a sunny summer day and the metal stands gave it a little more rustic feel, and made it feel not so monotonous.
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch

Btw, it was WAY cheaper to just buy a bunch of bags of real lemons than to buy fake ones, so now I have a whole bunch of lemons that I need to find something to do with. I guess I'll be making some lemon desserts this week, so stay tuned for what I end up making. Jury's still out on that one!
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch

On the brunch menu:
- Ham and cheese biscuits (recipe coming soon!)
- Candied bacon
- Fruit and yogurt parfaits
- Hashbrown casserole
- Mini cinnamon rolls
- Lemon cupcakes
- Orange Juice
- Lemonade
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch

Thank you to Faith, Heather and May for the help with the food and with the shower in general! I learned two things while planning this shower. 
1. Having great help makes everything so much more efficient and fun (Ok, this isn't new information, but it's a nice reminder!) and 
2. It is possible (and fun) to plan a baby girl baby shower with NO PINK! 

I always enjoy stepping outside of my "party comfort zone" to tackle something new. So thanks, April for hating the color pink! 😉 I cannot wait to meet sweet baby Eden!
Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch

For similar posts, be sure to check out my Party Planning page!


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Yellow and White baby girl baby shower decoration ideas. You are my sunshine baby shower theme tips. Food and drinks. Lemon cupcakes. Fruit and yogurt parfait. Baby shower brunch

Friday, June 8, 2018

Coffee Talk Confessions - June 2018

Hello, hello! It's Friday, Friday, everybody loves Friday! Anybody else remember that song? Nope? Just me?

Ok so anyway...I'm pretty excited because it's Friday, the girls are spending the night with my parents, David is taking off work today, and we are going golfing for the first time in a year (for me anyway, he went yesterday.) Last year I won the longest drive competition in his company golf tournament and I STILL haven't used my free round of golf that I won. Golfing used to be our thing before we had kids, but now it's so difficult to get time to go out there together. I'm thankful for days like today, when the girls can spend time with their grandparents and we can spend the afternoon on the course. I'm excited, can you tell?

Before we do all that, I've got a few confessions I'd like to share with you today!

//Sometimes I let my kids eat frozen waffles for lunch because I don't feel like making PB&J and mac-n-cheese for the 5th day in a row.

//I hate vegetables. Which is why it is so hard for me to jump on the healthy eating bus.

//Sometimes I still have to sing the books of the Bible song when I'm trying to find a book.

//I'm one of those people who doesn't like to put gas in the tank until I'm basically running on fumes. Because of this, a couple of weeks ago I needed to stop for gas on my way to work. When I got out to pump, I realized I forgot my purse (with my wallet) at home. [I did remember to grab my phone, my planner, and my coffee, which is all I really needed had I not needed gas. You know, besides my driver's license 😉]
Knowing that I definitely wouldn't make it to work, back home, then to a gas station the next morning, I had to go back home right then to get my purse, then get gas, then go into work. I ended up getting there super late. One thing that stinks about living so far out is that you're not just right around the corner from a gas station. It probably took an extra 30 minutes to get to work.

//I used love tanning in a tanning bed back in high school and college, but I finally came to my senses about 6 years ago and stopped going. I know how horrible it is for you, but I honestly miss going, because it was so relaxing to just lay there in the warmth and listen to music. Also, I've looked like a vampire for the last 6 years of my life, because I do not tan out in the sun easily. I've come to not be as self conscious about it as I used to be though, so yay for adulting!

//Sometimes I tend to get caught up in all of the pretty pictures on Pinterest, especially when it comes to home decor. I really have to reel myself in, because if I get too far down the rabbit hole, I find myself wanting and wanting and wanting (which leads to buying and buying and buying). I'm trying to learn to be content with what I have, because I know at this point of me not working full time, our money would be better saved than spent on pretty things we don't necessarily need. So I try to ask myself - Is it something I need? Or is it something I want? 

Can you relate to any of these? Which kind of gas person are you?

For more confessions, visit the Coffee Talk Confessions Archive


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