Wednesday, February 29, 2012

olive's first birthday party.

We celebrated Olive's first birthday on Sunday, February 19th 2012, which happened to be my dad's birthday.

I made invitations last month and sent them out early because I was excited. :)


I made quite a few treats and snacks, all of which were gluten and sugar free (save for the fruit punch). I was afraid it would be too difficult to make things like my "famous" chocolate chip cookies without being able to enjoy them. And sugar free meant all of the snacks were baby guest friendly. :)

I made:
Olive's cake
Sweet potato "cookies"
Pumpkin "cookies" (a spin of the recipe above)
Grain free coconut raisin cookies
Grain free chocolate chip cookies
Sugar free kheer
Bionico (fruit salad)

Our friends Brooke and Scott brought over some coconut macaroons and guacamole to compliment our chips (they also took some of the photos below - thanks! Because I totally was not on top of that). We had coffee, water, and punch to drink.

A local grocery store chain gives out free birthday cakes for first birthdays if you bring in the child's birth certificate so there was also a sugar-full cake for whoever was interested. I picked up a special cupcake for my dad as well.

It was my goal, for the weeks leading up to Olive's party, to finish painting the trim in our living room and dining room. I came up a little short but I got most of it done. :) About a week before the party I spent time decorating with little Instagram photos of Olive and cardboard flowers.









Her party was filled with friends and family that was able to make the trip up to visit. My mom was present on our laptop via Skype. :)

Pre-party giggles:


Olive woke up just minutes before her party started at 2:00. That was not my intention to wake her and suddenly throw her into such a stimulating situation but of course things don't always go as planned on party day.

Olive was a little shy at first.. hiding behind my leg (adorable). But quickly warmed up and waved to and smiled at all of our guests.

I made her a birthday crown / pirate hat (ha ha):








We gave our guests a few more minutes to arrive and then we played "The Olive Game". We gave everyone a piece of paper and I asked ten questions about Olive. Whoever had the most correct won! I think that Joe and Joy (Tyler's brother and his wife) were the winners. In case you're curious to see if you know Olive well here are the ten questions: (the answers can be found at the bottom of this post)

1. How much does Olive weigh? (I weighed her after waking her before the party)
2. How tall is Olive? (I measured her just before the party also)
3. What day of the week was Olive born?
4. What was Olive's first word/phrase? (Only said it once)
5. What was Olive's first functional, used multiple times, word?
6. What is Olive's favorite thing to point at?
7. What type of animal (stuffed) does Olive sleep with?
8. What is Olive's current favorite food?
9. What was Olive's first food?
10. What was the home team at Olive's first baseball game?

After the game we moved onto opening Olive's gifts. I was impressed at her stamina.. she was pretty tunned into the opening of each gift but near the end became more interested in some of the toys and her friend Claire. :)

After gifts everyone was free to snack and mingle while Olive enjoyed her cake while we listened to some of Olive's favorite songs.


Her party lasted two hours. I wasn't planning on it being so long because I assumed she'd be done with all of the excitement by then but she was a trooper. :)

A big thanks to everyone who was able to come! We're working on thank you cards this week. :)




Last night as a baby...


Quiz answers:
1. 17.3 pounds
2. 29.5 inches
3. Sunday
4. I love you
5. All done
6. Lights
7. Tiger
8. Caramelized onions
9. Avocado
10. Chicago Cubs

baby things you don't need.

I wish I would have found a list like this before Olive was born. We weren't really overrun with too many useless things but there are certainly things we could have done without. Or things that I could have used differently. I thought I'd make up a quick list in hopes of helping other new moms avoid the unnecessary items, especially if you're on a budget.

favorite baby things.

first birthday cake { grain & sugar free raw carrot }

Keeping in line with my elimination diet and because no one really needs sugar, I decided to make Olive a sugar free birthday cake. Even before committing to my diet I was planning to make her something sugar free.


After skimming some recipes online I found a few grain free and raw cakes that seemed perfect. Raw food is great because it's still in its most natural form.. so none of the nutrients have been cooked out our altered. Grains aren't really all that necessary for us to eat.. they're pretty processed and don't offer that many good things compared to something like fresh vegetables. I wouldn't say they're harmful but I don't really think we need them.

So why not make a cake that is enjoyable and nutritious and not going to make a baby previously unexposed to sugar go crazy on already crazy day?!

I settled on a recipe from A Gluten-Free Vegan Mom Who Knows but I changed a few things and used a different frosting. Olive loved the cake and so did I. I loved it so much that I'm making it for my birthday in a couple of weeks! :) I can't wait. And then I'm going to make one for... St. Patrick's Day. And... Easter. And... Saturday. And... yep.

The original recipe calls for tahini. I didn't want to buy a $9 jar of tahini so I used almond butter instead. I also did not include honey and I reduced the amount of walnuts (both due to Olive's age).

Here's what I used:
1 cup raisins (soaked until plump and then chopped in a food processor)
2 large carrots (finely grated)
3/4 cups raw walnuts (finely chopped in a food processor)
heaping 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut (ground in a food processor if not finely shredded)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

In a bowl combine all ingredients and mix well.

I was going to put the mixture into a tart pan to mold it but, as you can see from the photos, it makes a rather small cake. It wasn't nearly enough to fill the tart pan. It's pretty moldable though so I hand made a circle on a small plate. And I let it chill until it was cake time.


(I'm impressed by my handmade cake circle)

And because it's raw... viola! You're done! :)

The frosting I made was not vegan. I didn't follow the frosting recipe that accompanies the original cake recipe because I didn't want to add to Olive's nut intake that day and there were a few more things that I would need to buy. I went with a sugar free cream cheese frosting that I made up. Luckily it worked out because I didn't test it.

1 8oz package of cream cheese
4 Tablespoons of softened butter
1/4 maple syrup
2 teaspoons of vanilla

Whip the butter and cream cheese together, preferably with a stand or hand mixer. Add vanilla and maple syrup until incorporated. Stick your finger in and enjoy. :) And then put whatever is left on the cake.

The frosting is a little difficult to spread without the cake getting stuck to it so I basically just globbed it on.


Olive spent about 30 minutes with her cake. She was pretty careful with it at first and eventually grabbed a handful. She also graciously fed some to me too. We enjoyed little bits of cake with our meals over the next few days.



What's great about this cake is that we were able to eat it with our meals over the next few days.. :) It's not like a sweet desert that we need to ration. We didn't need to be careful about giving Olive too much sugar or something. It's all yummy and healthy ingredients so I just put a little on her plate during lunch and dinner. :)

Tip - Make sure you're using pure maple syrup.. nothing with added sugar, obviously.

You can see the original recipe here.

Let me know what you think if you end up making it. It's sooooooooooo yummy. :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

a classy at home wedding.

A couple of weeks ago I photographed an intimate at home wedding in St. Paul, Minnesota. The bride was absolutely gorgeous. I love her hair piece. :) We lucked out with a wonderful space to take portraits in one of their bedrooms and the layout of their home worked so well for the ceremony.

I skimmed the nearly 800 photos from the evening and picked out a few favorites to share:


























Congratulations! :)