Photo A Day Challenge

I’m an iPhone junkie. I love it. I mainly love it for taking photos… so, when a January Photo a Day Challenge showed up on my favorite app (Instagram) I knew I had to participate.
(Thank you to @fatmumslim on Instagram for creating this fun challenge!)
Days 1-4
Days 5-8
Days 9-12
Days 13-16
Days 17-20
Days 21-24
Days 25-28
Days 29-31
Now I am looking forward to doing not one, but TWO challenges for February!
February Challenge from @nowhereme — #photosofFeb
I thought her topics were cute and open to some interpretation. 
I am still not sure what I’ll do for Nose Goes or That’s Not Where Food Goes!
And, of course, I’ll be doing @FatMumSlim ‘s newest challenge.
If you want to keep up with my daily challenge posts follow me on Instagram via @plainojeni!
I’d love to follow you back as well…leave me your instagram name in the comments section!

{Recipe} Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Mmmm… birthday cake. Is there anything better?
I really enjoy making my friends birthday cakes or cupcakes. I like to play around with flavors and frostings. I like using things I have on hand or going to buy something special. I made this cake  (featured in the Rustic Birthday Party Post from yesterday) using some of the sweet potatoes that came in my weekly veggie box delivery.
And, boy oh boy was it a good use of vegetables!
The cake didn’t look perfect. My frosting job was a little wonky. But, it tasted pretty awesome.
The sweet potatoes made the cake moist. The marshmallow gave the frosting a fun kick.
Then, the crunch of the walnuts made me want another slice.
Sweet Potato Cake Recipe
Recipe loosely based on epicurious.com recipe
changes and additions made by me
INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 8-ounce red-skinned sweet potatoes(yams)
  • 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

  • Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below)
  • Walnuts (or pecans)
DIRECTIONS:
1. Poke yams with fork and bake until tender (about 1 hour at 375 degrees F). You can also do this in the microwave or used leftover mashed sweet potatoes ( approximately 2 cups worth). Peel yams and smash once done.
2. While yams are baking prepare a pan for cooking. You can use a muffin tin with liners for cupcakes. I used a springform pan and sprayed it with a little cooking spray and dusted it with a little bit of flour to prevent sticking. Preheat oven to 325 F.
3. In a medium bowl sift together (or put in bowl and stir around with a whisk or fork) flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a large bowl mix 2 cups of (cooled and mashed) yams with sugar, vegetable oil and syrup. Then mix in eggs 2 at a time. After mixing in eggs add in the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Add in vanilla extract and mix one last time. (I use a hand-held mixer, but if you are lucky enough to own a kitchen aid stand mixer then I’m sure that would work as well.)
5. Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Bake at 325 for about one hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
After the cake was done and cooled I sliced it in half, brushed the tops with a little bit of whiskey (a simple syrup would work as well) to keep it moist, and then frosted it. I put marshmallow icing and walnuts on the first layer before addign the top layer. I then frosted the entire cake with marshmallow icing and topped with walnuts.
Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting
I improvised this frosting recipe using my basic butter frosting as a base
INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 sticks butter- room temperature
  • 1 8 oz jar of Marshmallow Cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • milk or cream if needed for consistency
DIRECTIONS:
1. Whip up two sticks of room temperature butter until fluffy. (I use my handheld mixer.)
2. Add in 1 8 oz jar of Marshmallow Cream- whip until incorporated. I spray my handheld mixer with a little bit of cooking spray to help keep the marshmallow cream from sticking to my mixer.
3. While mixing, slowly add in powdered sugar.
4. Add in vanilla and salt and mix.
5. If the frosting is too thick add in tsp of milk or cream. If it is too runny add in a little bit more powdered sugar. I found that I usually don’t need any additional milk or sugar.
Add candles and a song and then you’ve got yourself a birthday cake!
I’d love to know if you decide to make this cake.

{Outfit Post} Brown Booties

Does anyone else think they should rethink calling them “booties”?
I’m pretty much in love with these shoes whether or not they are called something as ridiculous as “booties.” Before wearing this outfit I did google “How to Style Booties for Larger Women.”
There were many links to women with large booties. As in butts. 
The thing I like most about these shoes? They were $15. 
Yep, I’m cheap. 
Loving my husband’s photography skills. 
Outfit Details:
Jacket: Fake Leather from Target
Shirt: Maternity Shirt that I’m still rocking from H&M
Bag: Target
Jeans: Banana Republic
Shoes: Payless
Scarf: Gifted Infinity Scarf
Earrings: H&M

{Real Party} Rustic Dinner Party

On a previous {Working on it Wednesday} post I shared an inspiration board for a Fall dinner party with a color scheme of whites, tans, browns and blues.
Guests were in charge of bringing desserts or appetizers while I was in charge of making a main course dish and two sides for 20 people. I challenged myself to keep the whole party within a budget of $125. The decor could only cost $25 and the food, favors and two bottles of wine had to ring in under $100.

The Budget Breakdown
Decor:
$3 on plastic zoo animals
$4 on spray paint
$13 rugged burlap
$9 on flowers
Total: $29
 The rest of the decor were items I already owned
and items I made from things I already owned.
Food, Favors, and Wine: 
Wine— Two Bottles Free
Had leftover from Halloween party
Favors— Takeout boxes for guests to fill with desserts
$6.75
(Boxes were $13.50, but I split the costs with a friend
who needed the other half of the box order for Thanksgiving)
Food— $82.00
The biggest part of this cost was the meat for 15 people.
I also added a vegetarian main course dish and a birthday cake to this shopping trip.
Total: $88.75
Total Party Cost: $117.75

Check back this week for recipes and DIY decorations.

Are you a Portland Blogger?

Bloggers spend a lot of time stuck behind a computer screen.

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in this little land of blog posts and comments. 
It can even be fun at times… I feel like I’ve really gotten to know some of the people behind the blogs I read. I might even consider them FRIENDS. 
One of my bigger joys of this past year was getting the opportunity to actually MEET some of my new on-line friends in REAL LIFE. And, getting to meet them in person and see them as someone away from my computer screen has been enlightening and enriching.

Our last Portland Blogger Meet-Up was in December. We had snacks, crafts and a gift exchange.

 

Photos taken by Olga from Vintage Pretty

If you are a Portland Blogger and would like to join us for the upcoming meet-up please e-mail me
We will be meeting up Saturday, February 4th for brunch.

Some of the Portland Bloggers

Read about the last Blogger Meet-Up on these great blogs:

Sam Rosen: Portland Blogger Lunch
Running in Heels: Christmas Blogger Meet-Up
You Say It Best: Portland Blogger’s Meet-up
One Stylish Day at a Time: Weekend Re-Cap (Photo and small description)
Chic-Steals: Portland Blogger Meet-up, Lunch and Gift Exchange
Vintage Pretty: Blogger’s Christmas Party

Monthly Photos: Five Months Old

I’m taking photos every month my little guy gets older. 
(Idea comes from Making it Lovely’s Monthly Photos of her children)
Five Months Old

Someone learned a new trick this past month!
And, in comparison:

Getting things done

I have been buried under piles of laundry and stacks of things undone since the baby was born. 
I felt that I had got NOTHING finished EVER.

For someone who always got a ton of stuff finished in one day, the idea of not even being able to fold the laundry really overwhelmed me. Still does at times. 
She knows how to take joy in the things that she does get done and not worry about the things she doesn’t get done. Her post is one of the many reasons I started this blog. 
To those ladies out there who are still working hard to get things done… 
I’m with ya. You can do it. And, take joy in the little things.

Update in Links and Instagram Photos

So, this post on Hyperbole and a Half is a perfectly good example of what has been going on with me lately. The last couple of months threw me for a loop. I’m not quite on the other side of things yet.
And, I’ve been doing a lot of holding my little guy as he sleeps (sometimes the only way he will sleep now that he is teething). It made me smile to see Under the Sycamore’s sweet post about something similar.
I changed my iPhone background to this freebie from Oops, I Craft My Pants
Hopefully it will remind me to BE PRESENT. (Maybe it will also remind me to put my phone DOWN at times and be more in the actual moment rather than the virtual one.)
A new project I’ve been working on that has made me really appreciate great blog names.
I mean seriously, check out these blog names:
(Another great blog name.)
I think my one-word goal for 2012 would be FINISH.
I have so many projects, goals and plans to finish. So many things I’m so very close to being done with, but have pushed off the finish line because life got in the way. 
I’m also working with the word CREATIVE this year. I have a goal to be Creative Daily. 
I thought of this a few months back after being inspired by Alisa Burke (she now has a class called Creative Daily.) I’m starting nice and easy in January by participating in a photo challenge on Instagram. 
Oh, and parties… I’m still having them, enjoying them and photographing them. I just haven’t gotten around to posting about them. Throwing parties takes time and money (both of which I had more of before baby). I will (hopefully) get back to posting about parties very soon. 
I think I may have to institute a monthly ladies night in the style of Eat Drink Pretty
I’m in need of some serious girl time. 
If you are in the Portland area and want to be invited to future Girl Time events… e-mail me!

Happy New Year

This past year has been quite amazing. 
~Jan 2011~
I announced my pregnancy to friends and my lovely readers.
I also created a set of free party circle printables
 ~Feb 2011~

Made two sets of free Super Bowl printables
 ~March 2011~
I posted my first “bump” photo and not much else during the month of March. The pregnancy was certainly getting the best of me February through April!
~April 2011~
  
Did my first {Mommy Monday} post. Becoming a mommy was the biggest thing in my life and I felt that I needed to share it here on my blog. Thanks for taking the journey with me!
~May 2011~
I started to get back into the swing of blogging when May hit. 
I had several real party features as well as a few {Mommy Monday} posts and DIYs. 
My Chalkboard Mug DIY tips is still one of my most popular posts according to the page views. 
    
~June 2011~ 
were featured on Hostess with the Mostess. 
~July 2011~
During July I really hit my posting stride and had 24 posts about DIY projects, baking recipes and more. One of my favorite posts was sharing my recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes.

~Aug 2011~
In August I announced the arrival of my little man. 


~Sept 2011~
In September I shared two of my real parties— My Beer before Baby Party that I threw for my husband and A Library Themed Birthday Party for a friend.
 ~Oct 2011~
In October I traveled with an infant on a plane, enjoyed being a family of three, and planned a Halloween party.
  
~Nov 2011~
In November I went to my first Portland Blogger Meet Up 
and had Baby Shower Week here on the blog.
  
 ~Dec 2011~
December has probably been my busiest month so far this year. 
I haven’t even had much time to blog about it all. 
But, one of my favorite activities had to be participating in the Lovely Package Exchange
Here is to hoping you also had a wonderful year.  
And, a very happy New Year. 

Happy 2012!

 ** Oh, and Thank You to Rain or Shine for the idea for the post**

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