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Surprise Birthday Trip // PORTLAND

Portland birthday trip picsoandrea

"Hey, Camaron. Hey. Wake up. We're going on a trip today," I whispered to Camaron at 6am on Thursday morning. 

I had been planning Camaron's surprise birthday trip for months. And when I say surprise, I mean Camaron only knew we were going on a trip sometime to celebrate his birthday. He didn't know when we would leave or where we were going. I love surprises, so I take them pretty seriously. Once Camaron told me he didn't want to know where we were going until we got there, that became my goal. And let me tell you, it was hard! I wanted to tell Camaron so bad. I wanted to share the fun things I was planning. I had to plan everything on my own (something that is definitely not my thing). Hotel reservations, babysitters, airport parking, re-arranging both of our work schedules, packing, ...everything. And all in secret. I even gave Camaron false clues to make sure he was completely in the dark about where we were going. 

And you know what? It worked. Camaron was completely surprised. He had been thinking we would be leaving the next weekend for sure. And Portland was a complete surprise as well -All the way up until we had been walking around the Portland airport for around 30 minutes:) I felt like I should have earned a trophy or something. I had Cam keep his head down the whole time we were in the Phoenix airport so he wouldn't see anything that would give our destination away. Then he pulled a Home Alone 2 and had loud headphones on the whole time we were at the gate and then on the plane. It worked perfectly.

Portland birthday trip picsoandrea
Us on the plane. Camaron documented the whole trip on Instagram and even had friends try to figure out where we were going. Then we began taking recommendations from whoever figured out where we were. You can check it out on on his account @thisiscamaron

Portland birthday trip picsoandrea
Portland birthday trip picsoandrea
Portland birthday trip picsoandrea

We had so much fun in Portland. I had never been before. Camaron was there last year for a wedding, but didn't get to explore much. I'm not 100% sure why I chose it as our destination, but I'm sure glad I did. We had a blast. I came prepared with a long list of things to do and see. We took it pretty easy though, no set schedule or anything. Here is some of what we checked off:
Multnomah Falls and Columbia Gorge, Powell Books, Food carts, Last Thursday on Alberta Street, Washington Park, Pioneer Square, Dancing, Movie, OHSU aerial tram, Saturday market at Burnside Bridge, Portland City Grill, and the International Rose garden.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was Powell Books. It's a humongous book store. And Camaron really wanted to just pick out some books and read together. For however long we wanted. So we did. And it was so nice and relaxing. Remember how I mentioned I never find time to read a few posts ago? And how it's been a long time since I've finished a book. Well, I started and finished a book on this trip. (It was Mindy Kaling's new book and I highly recommend it. She's so fun).

Portland birthday trip picsoandrea
Portland birthday trip picsoandrea
Portland birthday trip picsoandrea

One thing Camaron had previously told me he wanted to do on his surprise trip (wherever it would be), was that he wanted to go dancing. We love getting our dance on, but we usually only get to at fun wedding receptions. So I found a fun place for dancing in downtown Portland, The Crystal Ballroom. And, as luck would have it, it was 80s night while we were there:) 

Portland birthday trip picsoandrea

On Camaron's birthday day (Saturday), we played downtown all day. Ate. We rode the aerial tram at OHSU and saw gorgeous views of Portland from above. Ate. We also went to see a movie. Neither of us had really heard much about The Intern, but we checked it out anyway. You guys, it was really good. No spoilers, just know I highly recommend it. Then we headed up to the 30th floor of the US Bancorp Tower. That's where Portland City Grill is located. Guests get an amazing view of the city while they eat. It was happy hour when we got there, and their appetizers are amazing. But that's as descriptive as I'll get about food in this post, I have a whole post devoted to Portland's food coming tomorrow. So much amazing food.

Portland birthday trip picsoandrea
Portland birthday trip picsoandrea
Portland birthday trip picsoandrea

Portland was a blast. A gorgeous, perfect-weather blast. I hope we get to go back soon. Maybe my birthday? Haha jk. kinda.

I couldn't fit everything in just one post, so be on the lookout for these posts later this week:
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Geek Girl Brunch // Harry Potter


Have you heard about Geek Girl Brunch? It's an international group for self-identifying nerdy ladies to meet up for brunch and other events throughout the year. Amazing, right? I was lucky enough to be contacted by one of the officers from Geek Girl Brunch's Phoenix chapter to donate one of my Dumbledore prints to their upcoming Harry Potter themed brunch. As a fan of all things Harry Potter, there was absolutely no hesitation on my end to donate to the cause. The luck continued when I found out I would actually get to go to the Harry Potter brunch! And it was even more amazing than I imagined.

Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch
Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch
Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch

Upon entering Rosie McCafferey's, the local British pub they held it at, we were each sorted into our houses. These "houses" were actually the tables we would be sitting at. I was sorted into the Slytherin house/table. It was kinda funny, because I had totally dressed like a Ravenclaw. But the same thing happened to a lot of the girls, so it was just funny. 

Oh, speaking of dressed, everyone dressed up. One girl came as Professor Trelawney. Another came in a Marauder's Map dress. Another in head-to-toe Slytherin gear. It was awesome. 

We each got an adorable swag bag. Look at that swag! Oh hey, there's my Dumbledore print:)

Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch
Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch

Along with the food and fun atmosphere, we also had a few games. My table rocked it at the Harry Potter trivia (I was no help -these girls are serious pros). And there was a raffle for some really cool HP trinkets. 

Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch

I really lucked out sitting at the Slytherin table. These girls were so nice and fun (nice and fun Slytherins. Who would have thought?). Haha look how Slytherin we are, looking all tired of those lame Gryffindors at the table across from us.

Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch

Geek Girl Brunch Harry Potter lunch

me in glasses.
I don't know what the theme will be for their next brunch yet, but I am already so excited for it. I kinda hope it will be Narnia, just so I can eat some Turkish delight. 


Join Geek Girl Brunch! click here
Find more prints in my shop! click here


Photos taken by GGBPHX


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Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

These pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are one of my new favorite things about fall. And I have a lot of fall favorites. How to Get Away With Murder the second season, evening walks, sweaters, picking out the kid's Halloween costumes ...just to name a few. I've always been a fan of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, but these won me over because of the texture. They're a lot less cake-y and a lot more cookie-y. They are still incredibly soft, so no worries there.

We made these yesterday and they're already gone. You better believe I'll be making them again tomorrow. 

CHEWY PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons (86 grams) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg1
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice1
  • 1/2 cup (90 grams) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft.  Fold in 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. They may not stick to the dough because of the melted butter, but do your best to have them evenly dispersed among the dough. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes, or up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory.
  3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  4. Roll the dough into balls, about 1.5 Tablespoons of dough each. Slightly flatten the dough balls because the cookies will only slightly spread in the oven. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and under-baked. Keeping them in the oven for longer may dry them out.  Remove from the oven and press a few more chocolate chips onto the tops, if desired.  If you find that your cookies didn't spread much at all, flatten them out when you take them out of the oven.
  5. Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack.  The longer the cookies cool, the chewier they will be. I let them sit out for at least 1 hour before enjoying.  I find that their chewiness and pumpkin flavor is more prominent on day 2. Cookies stay soft, moist, and chewy stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  6. Make ahead tip: Roll the chilled dough into balls and freeze in a large ziplock bag for up to 2 months. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for an extra minute or two. Do not thaw. Baked cookies may also be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Additional Notes:

  1. Use 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead of nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, if desired. Don't leave out the cinnamon. I like to add a lot of spices to increase the cookies' spice/pumpkin flavor. Go by your spice preference.

Recipe originally found HERE
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A House of Bookworms


We sure love our books around here. The biggest bookworm, lately, has been Sloane. Fox is a close second, though. I love it. Sloane is always handing me books and then backs herself up to sit in my lap. It's pretty hilarious when she just backs her booty right on up to us. She has inherited Fox's (and mine, duh) love of doggies. Doggie books are definitely her go to. And she's always enthusiastically pointing them out on each page (things get a little out of hand when we read 101 Dalmatians . Ha!)


I find her like this all of the time ^^^. Well, maybe not quite as posed (books in a circle? What am I doing?). But she always seems to be carrying around books, or is digging around in our bookshelf. Having kids who love books just makes me so happy. Maybe because I love making silly voices when I read aloud? Or it's like good for their brains or something?


 Fox has always been a bookworm. I love that he's at an age now where I can walk past his room and catch him reading to himself. Well, reciting the story to himself (he's only 3, people). It always surprises me how great of a memory he has. He mastered Go Dog Go in about a week and recites it to us in the car all of the time (how can you not with all of those red and green traffic lights?!). He still has nightly book requests before bed, too. It's so sweet to be able to cuddle up and read together at night. He's a big fan of Diary of a Wimpy Kid . I don't know how much of it he really is able to follow, but he'll just lay there and let me read for like 45 minutes (I really get into those books, ok?).

I grew up loving to read. I'm really bummed that I don't get to enjoy as many books as I'd like to anymore. It's totally my own fault. I'm really bad at managing my time and it always seems to be when I'm at my tiredest that I find time to read. That's the worst. I've been reading Amy Poehler's book for almost a year now. And it's SO GOOD. Any tips on finding time to read? (besides the dentist's office. I get so much reading done there. I should go more often). I'm really looking forward to when it starts cooling off and I can take the kids on walks again and listen to audiobooks. I totally rock those. Camaron is a Kindle/Nook man. He's been reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books lately, and I love it. Him loving to read has always been one of my favorite traits of his.

Any book recommendations? For you or kids? Anyone read Mindy Kaling's new book? (it's on my list to read next ...as in, next year. Haha I really hope I'm kidding).
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Cute DIY Freezer Paper Tshirt Stencil + Free Printable

DIY freezer paper T shirt stencil free printable

I've been wanting to try this DIY freezer paper screen printing technique on a t-shirt for quite a while. I first heard about freezer paper stencils when one of my friends used the technique to make her ward's girls camp shirts last summer. She asked me to make the design, then she used it to paint all of the girls' shirts. They turned out amazing! When I saw toddler shirts on clearance at Old Navy for 1.99 this week, I decided to try out the technique for myself. This is the same design I made for the girls camp shirts, just resized to fit perfectly on your favorite little person's t-shirt. A free download of the design in toddler and adult size can be found at the end of this post. I've included the free stencil because the freezer paper stencil technique is so easy, I want everyone to try it out:)


Supplies needed:

A t-shirt (or tote bag, or onesie...)
freezer paper (can be found by the aluminum foil and plastic wrap at the grocery store)
x-acto knife (or silhouette cutter, if available)
sharpie marker
iron
fabric paint (or fabric medium + acrylic paint)
foam brush



First, print out the stencil design and trace it onto the freezer paper (you could even print onto the freezer paper if you tape it to a piece of card stock). Make sure the shiny side of the freezer paper is down. Then you will cut out the design using an x-acto knife. Be sure to cut out on a cutting mat, cutting board, or even a piece of cardboard. You won't need to save the cut out letters, but don't toss out the inside of your o's, l's, and e's (you'll need them to make your stencil). If using a silhouette cutter, here's a simple tutorial for cutting freezer paper.


Next, iron the stencil onto your shirt. I set the iron to the cotton setting and then held it for about 30 seconds over each part of the stencil until the whole thing was stuck to the shirt. For me, it was easier to iron the whole big piece first, then go back and out in the inside pieces of the letters (the centers of the l's, e's, and o's) and iron then on second. It made it easier to make sure they were in the right spots and stayed there once I put the iron on them. Does that make sense? *please comment if anything becomes too confusing


Next, place a piece of cardboard (just a little bigger than your design) inside the shirt. This will keep the fabric paint from going through to the back of your shirt. Use the foam brush to dab the fabric paint onto the shirt/stencil. Dabbing will help prevent the paint from leaking under the stencil. Paint at least two coats.


I pulled the stencil off while the paint was still wet, but waiting until it's dry is fine too. After the paint is completely dry (usually a few hours), run a warm iron over the design to help the paint set. This will help prevent the paint from coming off when you wash your shirt.


And now you're a professional t-shirt maker! 

DIY freezer paper t shirt stencil free stencil
DIY freezer paper t shirt stencil free printable


Your stencil is reusable if you are careful with it. Below is the free download for the "ello love" stencil seen in this tutorial. Have you ever made a freezer paper stencil t-shirt before? leave me a link in the comments -I'd love to see them!

Click below to download:


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Escape The Room


Have you heard of Escape the Room? You and 8 other people are locked in a room. Words, numbers, and pictures are scattered throughout, all of them clues. A projection on the wall shows there are 60 minutes remaining to escape. A frenzy sets in as everyone ransacks the room, looking for clues leading to the keys that will open the door that just locked behind you. Before you know it, the projection shows: 10 minutes have passed. 


At least, that was how the adventure began for us. 



My aunt came up with the idea for a bunch of us to take on Escape the Room in Scottsdale as a fun family activity this weekend. Umm, it was amazing. They have a bunch of themed rooms to choose for your escape. We did the apartment. As the name suggests, the room was set up like a basic apartment: a living room that opened into a kitchen, then further back was a den connected to a bathroom. But we quickly realized it wasn't just a normal apartment. There were all kinds of locks on cupboards and cabinets. We had to find clues to figure how to open them and then use whatever was inside to help us get closer to finding the keys to escape. I won't spoil anything by writing any of the clues or surprises, no worries. 



I just assumed everything was a clue. "You guys, I think the shape of the apartment might actually be a clue!" "Guys, is this piece of glitter a clue? I think it might mean something." Ha! I'm glad everyone just ignored me. Luckily, I come from a family of puzzle and brain-teaser masters. They rocked it. No lie though, this challenge was hard. The hour flew by and we still had quite a way to go. It wasn't until within the last two minutes* that we found the last two keys to escape and a big surprise. I loved that my cousin was wearing a fitbit, so we were able to see how crazy her heart rate got right at the end. It was so intense! But we escaped!



Our guide, who gave us the rundown before we started, informed us that only 20% of the groups who chose the apartment were successful in escaping. Uh, what? Then he told us that four other groups had attempted it that day ...and lost. We were the fifth though. We were the 20%! We chanted that as we started and we chanted it when we finished. This was such a fun experience. It's still mind-boggling thinking about some of the things we were able to put together at the last second. I can't stop thinking about it. 



So who's down to escape the room? Remember to save a spot for me, because I can't wait to do it again. They have an 80s-themed room, guys. The 80s.




*Yes, it took us right around 59 minutes to escape. Pay no attention to the time written on the sign my brother-in-law is holding in the photo (he wanted us to look extra-impressive;) )
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Date Night // Wicked


This weekend, Camaron took me on a fun date out to dinner and then to Wicked (the Broadway tour is at ASU Gammage right now. Yay!!!). My mom babysat and took a few photos for us before we left. Since we were spending the evening at the theatre (said in a British accent), we decided to dress up. And that, of course, needed to be documented;)


 We went to Wicked with our friends, Katie and Heath. We used to live next door to each other in our old neighborhood, but haven't hung out all together since we moved back from DC. They are so great. We met up at the legendary Tempe staple, The Chuck Box. It's a total dive, but the burgers are sooo good! And they have root beer on tap. Katie is pregnant and I had major flashbacks to when I was pregnant, seeing her bummed that the fries were all gone. That was so me! I was always finishing Camaron's meals for him, whether he was done or not. I'm so glad he's so nice.


This was my second time seeing Wicked. But I have a confession to make: I have no recollection of the first time. Seeing it this time really made me wonder if I actually had seen it before or if I had convinced myself I had since I listened to the soundtrack so much. But I have a playbill from six years ago, and my mom also confirmed it. I don't know if I was just really distracted that night, or they changed the production a ton since then, or if I just have a horrible memory (probably the latter), but it truly was like I was seeing it for the first time this weekend. And it was so amazing! Galinda was hilarious and really made the part her own, and everyone was so incredibly talented. It was such a great show. It was Camaron's first time seeing it and it was so fun experiencing it with him. And of course we listened to the soundtrack on the way home. And then we put on "Let it Go*", because you can't just listen to Idina Menzel in Wicked without a follow up of her in Frozen. You just can't. 

I know, I know. The lighting and quality of this picture. Almost too amazing to take in. Right? Right?

It was a perfect Friday night date. Thanks Camaron!


My dress is from Forever21 (a long time ago), shoes from DSW (even longer, they're my wedding shoes), Camaron's suit is from H&M

*I really struggled trying to remember what the name of this song was. I told Camaron we should listen to that song from Frozen. "You know, the one from Frozen? Where she decides to just be herself and not let anyone hold her back? Movin on? I'm free? Uhhh..."
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Adventure Awaits // Working on new prints


The new line for Little Kit Design debuts next week. It's loosely based on Peter Pan. So there are lots of forest and tribal designs with a "never grow up" theme sprinkled all over. As you can imagine, I have been incredibly busy gathering ideas, creating layouts, hand lettering, and painting. The work has been nothing but fun, though. I'm so excited to share these prints with everyone next week. The shop has slowly been overtaken by feminine designs, so its been extra fun working on more boyish and gender-neutral pieces. Adventure awaits!

Check out all of Little Kit Design's prints here
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