Thursday, September 29, 2011

How do you know your brand strategy is working?

When your less-than-2-year-old finds a Little House on the Prairie book with a covered wagon on the front and says, "Look, Mommy, Pizza Ranch!"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ryan's 2nd Birthday: Presents

Ryan isn't experienced enough in the birthday department to anticipate the presents, but once they started showing up, he knew exactly what to do! It was fun now that he's able to open them relatively unassisted. And since he was the only child there over 2 weeks and under 24, he wasn't interrupted by other present-unwrapping "helpers".
 First, he opened the Little People Nativity set and Wisemen. He has had a lot of fun playing with all the camels, and "Mommy & Joseph". He told me Baby Jesus goes "in the water." I think this is in reference to his Moses books and the fact that Baby Jesus kind of looks like he's in a basket. The funny thing is my niece Emily used to call him "Baby Moses" when she was little too!  I love the nativity set and being able to tell him the Christmas story using all the characters.

Next, he opened a whole set of cows/bulls and a red grain wagon! He loves both of them and spent a lot of the weekend playing farm.

Ryan opened his big red tractor and immediately wanted it out of the box! He loves hooking up the wagon and pushing it around. He also got some clothes and pajamas from Adam and me (which he immediately threw to the side in search of more desirable presents). But, he has worn his new football and Santa pajamas since and likes them almost as much as his "Curious George" (aka generic monkey) jammies.
He got a book about Diggers and a Minnesota Vikings teeshirt! When he opened the shirt, he said, "Go Dutch!" We just have too many teams to cheer for to keep them all straight (Vikings, Twins, Hawkeyes, Raiders, Dutch).

Next, he got a Red Raiders football! He loved practicing kicking it at the party (but we have since moved all kicking activities out of doors). It's the perfect size for him and he likes to practice drop-kicking it!

Ryan got a new fence for his barn, made by Adam's grandpa from a tree recently cut down on the family Century farm. It's the perfect fence! Folds up, but Ryan can set it in any configuration himself and it stays standing on carpet! It fit the barn perfectly.

The last present Ryan opened was the odd-shaped tower Uncle Wade had wrapped in scraps of Christmas paper and duct tape.  It was a Vikings tackling dummy! Once he got the hang of it, he was relentless! Good thing we had worked on "wrapping it up" and "drive your feet" earlier that morning. Adam was just happy to substitute the Vikings FB player for himself!

Here's a video of one of his tackles:

If you can sum up how Ryan felt about his birthday party, here it is: Hooray!
Thank-you, everyone, for the awesome presents! Ryan loves each and every one of them and is excited everyday to play with his new toys!

Ryan's 2nd Birthday: Barn Cake

Ryan's Birthday party had a "farm" theme this year. I ordered some plates, napkins, paper cutouts, streamers, and thank-you cards from I decided to make the cake to match the barn shown on the plates. First, I baked a Devil's Food cake in a 9x13 pan and let it cool overnight. Then I just used a bread knife to cut a few edges off to shape the barn and silo. I cut the silo down a little bit too to make it more 3D.
Next, I mixed up a batch of Wilton's buttercream frosting recipe, but used half vanilla and half almond flavoring. Then, I divided it out and mixed in red, yellow, and green food coloring and got to frosting! I was happy with the way the cake turned out and got to try out a few different decorating tips and techniques.  The biggest challenge was keeping Ryan's little fingers off of the cake! It ended up living on top of the piano with the door closed, but even then he managed to dig into a fence post before his party!
The cake fit in nicely with the other party decorations and Ryan loved looking at his "baahwun"!
He was so excited about all his people and presents at the party, that he only had one bite of his cake!

But maybe it was because he was too full of pizza!

Ryan's 2nd Birthday: Family

"Welcome to my birthday party!"

Whoa! That is one big present! (And nice wrap job, Wade.)

I've missed you, Aunt Kim!

Hi, Great-Grandma M! 

Grandma B, Great-Grandma B, and Baby Saylor

Ryan LOVES seeing Baby Saylor!

But, not so sure the feeling is mutual.

Thanks to everyone who came to my party!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Big Barn

When Adam was little, he loved playing farm. He would line up all his animals, corral them with fences, run rice or corn kernals through the grain wagon, and plow rows into the carpet with his tractors. His favorite thing was a huge wooden barn, made for him by his mom's Great Uncle. With Adam's parents moving to a new house, it was time for them to pass along many of the treasures they had been saving for when Adam grew up and had a son of his own, so now was the perfect time.  They brought over his barn a few weeks ago and I decided to give it a fresh coat of paint before handing it over to Ryan.


 I even painted a little "barn quilt" for it. 
I love seeing these in the country and thought his barn would look good with one too.

After Ryan's birthday party, he had plenty of farm equipment and animals, including a fence made by Great Grandpa using wood from a tree on the family farm.  He is sure to enjoy the barn for years to come!

Pumpkin Land 2011

On Friday night, Adam went to the Away football game and it was a gorgeous weather, so Ryan and I were looking for something fun to do outside. Hoping it would be a little less busy than the crazy Saturdays, we decided to go out to Pumpkin Land.

First, we checked out the pumpkins and crafts and saw how Ryan "measured up" vs. last year! He's almost 3 pumpkins high, but still has the same apprehensive "is that giant Jack-O-Lantern going to get me" look.
Next, we looked at all the animals, including the kitties, bunnies, goats, geese, sheep, ducks, chickens and llamas. I wish I had a picture of the pregnant goat because I came home that night and told Adam "that is one weird-looking goat." He immediately launched into the SNL parady where the "wildlife expert" keeps saying about the goat,  "That is one weird dog. That dog keeps looking at me." Anyone else remember that one? [ Thanks, JPK, for filling in the blank to add "Hi, I'm Brian Fellows." ]
 Ryan also liked playing in all the "play houses" on the grounds. He loved opening the windows and doors, looking through the telescope on the pirate ship, and filling the sink with rocks.
 We didn't do the big corn maze, but just ran through the little kids maze to check it out.
I'm sure we'll make another trip this fall to pick out pumpkins, but for now, this was a fun little outing for us and a great way to spend some time outside. Thanks, Pumpkin Land!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Barn Light Electric

Barn Lights Online Contest

Now that we have some living room furniture and decor started let's talk lighting!  I love Barn Light Electric's collection "where vintage and modern collide" and they are currently running a blog contest, asking people to show lights they'd love to own and be entered into a drawing to win a gift certificate for $1000 or $500 to the website, I would LOVE to have some new lights, so here are a few of my favorites.

Our outdoor lighting is bright gold "out of the box" 90's, even though our house was built in 2002. I would love to give some character to our otherwise plain house with some Barn Light "Fanning" Shades. I would pick the Rosewood or Cappuchino finish with either Honey Irri glass or clear glass. (shown here in black)

To match the look of the outdoor lighting, I love these Barn Light Drover Pendants, I would pick the Rosewood or Cappuchino finish with the Honey Irri glass for my kitchen.

Another area of my house that could use some better lighting is my bedroom. First, it would be nice to have a ceiling fan, but one that looked like the Americana "Short" Ceiling Fan would be a huge upgrade in style as well. 

The second solution we need is reading lights on both sides of our bed. I'm not sure the Barn Light Wall Mount Comet Sconce would be the best for a reading light, but they sure are cool.
Maybe an Alburndale Swingarm Adjustable Sconce would fit the bill for a reading light. I really like the Aged Bronze finish.

Although I'd love to have the best chance at winning, I want others to have the opportunity to participate as well, so here are the rules for entering this giveaway! Also, be sure to check out their blog and, for terrific articles about lighting style (especially those written by my friend, Steph!)

We're launching our biggest giveaway yet! 
Beginning Wednesday, September 21, 2011 we're giving YOU the chance to win (1) $1,000.00 or (1) $500.00 Barn Light Electric Gift Certificate!
How to Enter:
  1. Look around online at and pick lights you’d love to own
  2. Feature your lighting picks on your personal blog, and link to the lights if you can!
  3. Copy/Paste these rules at the bottom of your blog article so others can enter
  4. Once your personal article is up, you must email your blog link to: to be qualified to win. The contest ends Wednesday, October 12, 2011
  5. Don’t have a blog? Find out how you can enter by reading the Official Rules

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Living Room: Before & After

(hopefully this was obvious)

 We painted the walls a warmer color, and our dark brown leather recliner and reclining couch were delivered from Nebraska Furniture Mart to complete the seating. We were able to bring the accent chair home with us from Omaha.

The "plates" on metal framing are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and the vase and flowers are from Hobby Lobby.
All of the accent pillows are from Bed, Bath & Beyond and most were on clearance for $9.99! Beats buying two pillows with the accent chair's fabric for $120!

I picked out all of these chipboard letters from different sets at Hobby Lobby and then painted them with leftover purple paint from our kitchen to pull that color into the living room. 

 Technically not part of the living room, this clock is hung above the stairway in the kitchen to break up the big blank wall. I love the colors and patterns and it helps to bring color to the kitchen area.

We are definitely not ready to call the living room "complete" since we still need an entertainment center, mantel, and new end table, but at least we have some color and life back in the living room!