Leo’s 1st Birthday Par-Tee

After searching Pinterest for 1st birthday party ideas, I settled on a golf themed party for baby Leo. It was taking place in the middle of summer, in our back yard, and our family loves to play golf. So we planned a 1st birthday PAR-TEE, complete with his very first set of golf clubs!

 

2-tiered cake and smash cake: Countertop Cakes

Embroidered birthday shirt: Etsy

Menu:

Golf Clubs (Brats and Hotdogs)

Putt-ato Salad

Par Pasta Salad

Chip Shots (Chips)

Watermelon Slices

Range Balls (Popcorn Puffs)

Donut Hole-in-Ones (Donut holes)

Arnold Palmers

 

I’m Back–With Lots of BIG News!

Hello, and I’m back!! I had to take a break from blogging for the first part of this year, with lots of big changes going on in my life. But lucky for you, I’m back and ready to talk about what’s happening in Our Little Ivory Tower!

Here’s the first piece of news:

Guess what?!

Guess what?!

Big enough for you???? We found out in November that our life was going to change DRASTICALLY in 9 months and couldn’t be any more thrilled. We got to share the news with our parents at Christmas by giving each set of parents a baby book and ultrasound picture. There was a lot of screaming, tears, and hugs–and I think it’s safe to say this first grandchild on BOTH SIDES is going to be very loved (and very spoiled!) We have decided NOT to find out what we’re having {yes, I know that’s crazy!} so we are preparing as best we can with neutral tones. I can’t wait to show our nursery progress with you as we get further along.

I am at 32 weeks today, so we only have about 2 months left to prepare until the little bambino is here. He or she is incredibly active and has been looking great at my doctor’s appointments. I have been feeling pretty well, but the swelling has been getting worse and worse, and sleep is getting harder and harder to come by. I miss margaritas, sushi, and being able to comfortably bend down to pick something off the ground. I also miss wearing my wedding ring, which became impossible to get on and off about a week ago. Darn you summer pregnancy!

Here’s the second piece of news:

I got a new job! On May 12 I had my first day at ACT in Iowa City as a Product Marketing Associate and it has been a whirlwind since. I’ll be working on marketing their K-12 products including the ACT Test and the new ACT Aspire. While I miss my amazing coworkers from my old job SO MUCH, I’m really excited about my future with ACT and am already loving working full-time in a marketing role. I can’t wait to see where it will go from here.

I think that is enough news for today. Next weekend we’re taking a mini-“babymoon” to Milwaukee, then in coming weeks we have a LOT of work to do to prepare for the baby, and a baby shower at the end of June. We’re also trying to enjoy quality time together while it’s just the two of us, work on projects in and around the house, and getting a few rounds of golf in.

Have a great weekend, and I promise to be back soon!

Dory is resting up for the baby

Dory is resting up for the baby

Where Did January Go?!?

Well, I’m off to a terrible start this year blogging. Believe it or not, it’s been a pretty busy month, despite the freezing temps and frigid weather. I had several things I planned on blogging about this month. For one, I thought I was going to do Bachelor recaps. However, after the first show or two, I realized this season is REALLY not very interesting. The lead barely speaks English, and the girls are pretty blahh. So I didn’t have much motivation to blog about it. Then G & his dad painted our kitchen/dining room, and it looks AWESOME! We still have some projects to finish it off, but the paint looks great. We went with Naval (navy blue) and white, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Maybe this weekend I will get my kitchen put together enough to take some pictures and post the before and afters.

Last weekend I got to celebrate my friend Tiffany’s 30th birthday at her 90’s theme party. We had SO much fun reliving the 90’s in costume, complete with lots of denim, clogs, and some butterfly clips. I was so impressed how into it everyone got. Lots of great costumes and fun games. One guy even came dressed as a TY BEANIE BABY. It was awesome.

Me and "Cher" - the birthday girl!

Me and “Cher” – the birthday girl!

He's got his tag....how much is he worth?!

He’s got his tag….how much is he worth?!

Bottom's Up for the Birthday Girl!

Bottom’s Up to the Birthday Girl!

It’s going to be a fun year with so many of my friend turning the big 3-0 this year! (I still have another year, though, YIPPEE!)

Tonight I tried a new recipe that I wanted to share while it’s still bitterly cold outside. This chicken noodle soup recipe will make your house smell amazing and will warm you right up–and the best part is it’s SUPER easy and only takes about 30 minutes to make! I did make a few changes to the original recipe found on Pinterest.

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Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 bag of egg noodles (medium or wide)
2 cans of cooked chunk chicken breast, strained
1 can sliced carrots, strained
8 cups water
Chicken Boullion cubes
Spinach leaves, cut in thin strips
Parsley Flakes

Directions:
1) In a large soup pot, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.
2) Add 8-10 cups hot water and add bouillon cubes (I used 8 cubes)- you could also use canned chicken broth.
3) Bring to a rolling boil and add bag of egg noodles.
4) Boil until noodles are tender (approx. 8-10 minutes, according to package), and stir occasionally.
5) Add carrots, spinach, and chicken and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 more minutes. (I did a quick taste test here and add more seasoning if it needs it including some salt/pepper.)
6) Sprinkle parsley flakes on top and serve!!! (Don’t skip out on the parsley flakes- it really adds to the “homestyle” look of the soup.)

This recipe makes a big pot of soup, so you’ll have left overs for a couple days. It is so easy and delicious, and perfect for this time of year. Enjoy!

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2013 in Review

2013 was an AMAZING year! This week, I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers writing their year in review, and I really liked that idea. 2013 was full of weddings, and parties, changes and trips, and overall it was a wonderful year! So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite moments from 2013!

  • In February I started my new blog, Our Little Ivory Tower! I wrote 47 posts in 2013, and I’m excited to see how I can grow my blog in 2014. I absolutely love having a writing outlet and a way to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has also been a great way for me to document my life and it serves as a “live” scrapbook.
  • In March my sissy moved to Colorado, which was incredibly sad, but also so exciting for her! She got a promotion working for Victoria Secret, and shortly after moving she got ANOTHER promotion and was given her OWN STORE to manage. She is doing an awesome job and loving being out in Denver!

Mar  VS

  • Also in March, G & I did some fundraising for the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. So many of our family and friends helped by donating and we were able to raise $250 for the local organization to help send veterans to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.
  • In April my bestie Megan invited me to be her +1 for a work trip she earned to Austin, TX! All expenses paid, we spend a long weekend exploring Austin with an awesome group of people, as well as a couple days at an amazing resort. We were pampered, ate like queens, and had an awesome #palsweekend overall. The trip was definitely a top highlight of 2013!

TX

  • At the end of April, I helped to host my dear friend Tiffany’s bachelorette party in Des Moines, which was a blast with old and new friends.

bachelorette party

  • In May I celebrated another bachelorette, my roommate from college Katie, in Nashville! It was my first time to ‘Music City’ and I loved every minute of it. We danced to country music, bought cowboy boots, and drank till the sun came up. It was another amazing girlfriends trip!

Nashvegas

  • In June I got to stand up as a bridesmaid in Tiffany and Nick’s wedding. It was one of the most fun bridal parties I’ve ever been a part of and the wedding was beautiful and classy and SO much fun.

Malcom Wedding

  • In July G & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! He posted this on Facebook which absolutely melted my heartūüôā He’s not a big “sharer” on Facebook, so that made it all the more special. It’s good to be me, too!

Facebook

Anniversary

  • Also in July, I was a bridesmaid in Katie and Sean’s wedding in the Quad Cities. It was a gorgeous wedding and incredibly special and truly a wedding I will never forget.

Laird Sisters

  • In August we attended my 10 year class reunion. I rode in our class float, watched old class videos from elementary and high school days, and enjoyed catching up with my classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years!

Class of 2003

  • In September we went out to Colorado with my parents to visit Marlee and Andrew. We went to a Reds/Rockies game, hiking in the mountains, exploring Denver and Boulder, and had a lot of family fun time.

Mountains Family

  • Also in September, we traveled to Missouri for our friends Stephanie and Horacio’s wedding. So many of our friends who G grew up with were there, and we had a great time dancing the night away and catching up with old friends.

Wedding fun

  • In October I got to go to Las Vegas for work to exhibit at the NBWA Tradeshow. Not only was it beautiful weather while we were there, I learned a lot and even had some time to explore the city.

Las Vegas

  • In November I participated in NaBloPoMo¬†and blogged {almost} every day in the month of November. We also spent Thanksgiving in Fort Dodge with the Ivorys, and went to G’s cousin’s wedding.

Ivorys

  • In December¬†my sister got engaged!!! Her fiance Andrew took her up into the mountains for a relaxing weekend, and ended it by putting a beautiful ring on her finger. We are looking forward to the wedding planning to come in 2014, and a wedding in 2015! I’m so excited for them and excited for Andrew to become a part of our family.

Future Newbergs

  • Also in December,¬†I decorated for Christmas¬†¬†and we went to Chicago to celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. We also got together in Cedar Falls with G’s family to open presents and enjoy a really fun lunch at a Japanese steakhouse.

Christmas Tree

As you can see, 2013 was a really exciting and eventful year. We’re expecting another fun and and crazy year in 2014, and I can’t wait to share it all with you again. My goal for 2013 is to take one picture everyday to document the year {thanks for the idea, Mix and Match Mama!}, and to take time to enjoy my family and friends, because life is too short to not be around those you love.

Tonight G & I are going to ring in the New Year together by going out for a fancy dinner at 350 First¬†and possibly to a movie, then probably home to watch the ball drop on TV. I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow we will spend Jan 1 relaxing and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play LSU in the Outback Bowl! GOOOOO HAWKS!

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and look forward to seeing you all in 2014!

That’s What I Love About Sunday

It was an emotional week last week with lots of ups and downs. We were traveling through Christmas day, then home to work for a day, then back in the car to go to the Quad Cities to pay our final respects to an amazing man. On December 21st, we got the news that my college roommate and close friends’ dad had passed away after fighting pancreatic cancer for 10 months. Bill always called me the 3rd Laird daughter, and was someone who could always make me laugh and had the most warm and caring smile of anyone I’ve ever met. He loved and appreciated everyone he met, and I am so sad for my friends who will now miss their dad every single day. We went to the visitation on Thursday night, then spent the night and attended the funeral on Friday morning. It was a beautiful service and I’m so glad we were able to attend.

When we got back on Friday afternoon, I had to go back to work for the rest of the day, and then babysat in the evening. Saturday we met G’s family in Cedar Falls for a really nice lunch and our family Christmas. I must say we were really spoiled by both of our families this Christmas, and feel very blessed to have such amazing parents and siblings.

But by today, I was EXHAUSTED. I knew I needed to do some laundry and go to the grocery store, and didn’t feel like making anything too complicated for dinner. Cue up my Yummy Food and Drinks Pinterest Board¬†and I had the perfect recipe in mind to try. One of my favorite Illinois staples that my mom and I always HAVE to hit when we’re visiting our family is White Castle. Love it or hate it, I don’t care….I love a delicious slider! So when I saw the recipe for Easy Cheeseburger Sliders, I pinned it right away! Tonight I finally tried it and must say, it is SO EASY and INCREDIBLY yummy! One of my new favorite pins!

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Photo from betterrecipes.com

Since I was just cooking for G & I, I used a smaller pan and cut the recipe in half. Only using 1 pound of ground beef was enough for us to each have a couple sliders, and still have more left over for tomorrow. Click the photo above for the original recipe, or here’s how I did it:

Easy Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

 

1 pound, 90% (or leaner) lean ground beef

1/8 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped onions

Pinch of salt

Kings Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (or slider buns)

4 slices cheddar or American cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.   In a bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, onion, and salt.  Gently press mixture into a 8 x 8-inch pan so that it makes one large patty of even thickness.  Use the tines of a fork to poke holes throughout the meat.  Bake for 20 minutes.  As it bakes, the meat will shrink away from the sides and liquid will accumulate around the edges of pan.  When fully cooked, remove the pan from oven (keep oven turned on) and carefully drain off the liquid.

Top the meat with an even layer of sliced cheese; return pan to oven for about 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes.  Cut into 2-inch squares (or the size of the buns used), making about 8 mini-hamburgers.  Serve with dill pickle slices, ketchup and mustard.  Serves 4 at 2 sliders each.

I would use this recipe to make regular sized hamburgers again, too. It was so easy baking the meat, and was pleased how all the patties turned out the same size and thickness. You could also add bacon, or other favorite toppings for some variety, or make a double cheeseburger who wants to eat less bun and more burger!

Now I’m back to work tomorrow for the last day of 2013, and then off on Tuesday and Wednesday for New Year’s Eve and Day. After such an emotional week, today was exactly what I needed – relaxing, yet productive, with a comfort food dinner. Now, THAT’S what I love about Sunday!

Merry Christmas From the Ivorys!

Merry Christmas friends and family, near and far! We spent the last few days with family in Plainfield, IL celebrating the holiday and getting to see my cousin who is home for a short while from the Air Force. We enjoyed eating way too much and got completely spoiled with presents. We missed being with my sister who was in Colorado, and Greg’s family. But we will continue the celebration with them next weekend.

Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday!

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So This is Christmas

Apparently I’m into naming my posts after songs lately….and I kinda like it. Might see how long I can keep it up!ūüôā

Tomorrow I’m hosting some Zetas from my alumnae chapter over to put together the fundraiser I’ve been working on. We sold “finals survival kits” to the parents of the collegiate Zetas, and will put them together for delivery. I’m really excited about it because we sold way more than I expected, and are going to be able to donate a lot of money. I just hope the weather isn’t bad, as many of the ladies are traveling from Iowa City and the Quad Cities. Snow, snow, stay away!

In preparation for my guests, I finished my Christmas decorating today, and even wrapped the presents I have ready so far! I really wish I would have gotten a real tree this year, but with Thanksgiving so late, it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. Hopefully next year…regardless, I’m glad to have it done and am looking forward to enjoying the pretty decor for the next 3 to 4 weeks!

See this year’s decorations below and Merry Christmas, everyone!

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