20 Before 21 Final Update

Friday, September 19, 2014

Yesterday I turned 21 years old which means that is was the last day I had to complete my 20 Before 21 birthday bucket list and I have to say that I did a pretty good job. I did a better job at capturing moments in photos, I made a photo book of our wedding photos, read one book per month, and more!
1. Take More Photos
I am doing so much better when it comes to snapping photos, having a kid helps things like that. For never ending photos form my life be sure to follow me on Instagram.
2. Get Serious About Blogging
This is in progress but mostly done. I've nailed down planning out and following my editorial calendar and posting consistently. Stay tuned for a huge change around here on October 1st that I am so excited for! 
3. Plant an Herb Garden
I planted a cute herb garden and within a month every single herb died. All this goal said to do was plant a garden, it says nothing about keeping it alive. I have come to terms with the fact that I do not have a green thumb and that's okay.
4. Print Wedding Photo Book
A found a coupon for a free 8x8" photo book from Shutterfly and I am quite happy with the results.
5. Learn How to Knit
I've decided that I don't want to learn how to knit, blogging takes up enough of my time.
6. Be more Social
I have done so much better at being more social over the last year, even when I was exhausted during pregnancy. I am proud of myself.
7. Buy Another Camera Lens
We had this little thing called a baby who ate up a lot of our money (he didn't literally eat it but you get my point) so unfortunately a camera lens is not in the budget at the moment.
8. Get Blog Business Cards
I am calling this one done because it is in progress and planned. It ties in with the big change happening on October 1st.
9. Lose the Baby Weight
I gained approximately 30lbs throughout my pregnancy and when I was weighed a week after giving birth I had already lost 20lbs. In the middle of August I was finally cleared to exercise but still had to take it easy because my c-section incision was still seriously sore (and still is if I exercise too hard). So I am calling this goal a win because although I still have ten pounds to lose, I haven't gained any weight despite my ravenous appetite due to breastfeeding.
10. Try riding bike again
Again, I had a c-section. So this didn't so much happen.
11. Create a Date Night Jar
I didn't make a date night jar but I did create a big list of date night ideas on Evernote that we can check off as we complete them.
12. Break out the Sewing Machine
I did pull out the sewing machine to make William's mobile but pulling out a sewing machine while taking care of a newborn is pretty much impossible, plus it's super noisy.
13. Create a Weekly Meal Plan
I have come up with a meal/grocery planning dealio that works for us and still allows me to be creative in the kitchen.
14. Learn More About HTML
I will continue working on this one as my blog grows and develops but I feel like I've got a good understanding of the basics to help me along in blogland.
15. Read One Book Per Month
January - Murder in Mesopotamia by Agatha Christie, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
February - No Mark Upon Her by Deborah Cromble
March - I watched too much TV this month but made up for it in later months
April - Pines by Blake Crouch
May - 3 a.m. by Nick Pirog, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
June - Death Checks Inn by Sara Robbins, Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers, Innvitation to Murder by Sara Robbins, Now You May Weep by Deborah Cromble
July - Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
August - Born to Blog by Mark W. Schaefer and Stanford A. Smith
16. Get a Tattoo
This is in progress and being planned.
17. Learn How to Use Chopsticks
I'm not going to lie, I didn't even attempt this one...
18. Practice Hand Lettering
Almost everyday for a week I practiced hand lettering and I have decided that it is just not one of my talents and that's okay. There's a reason everyone isn't good at everything and I know lots of people that are great at hand lettering so I can just utilize their talents when needed. Hey, at least I tried!
19. Go to a Spa
I didn't end up getting a massage but I did spend three hours at Plum Salon & Spa turning my hair back to blonde after not having colored it for nine months.
20. Try a New Food
I bought new foods to try but then they went bad before I could try them. Yeah, I failed.

Total Completed: 15/20 goals completed

Overall I am pretty proud of myself for completing as many of these as I did while pregnant/caring for a newborn. I think I finally have the whole being social thing down, plus having a baby really helps in social situations. The one thing that I haven't done well over the last few months is doing things other than watching tv to entertain myself. Sure, I was stuck in bed for a few weeks but there was no reason I couldn't listen to podcasts or read a book instead of watching tv. One of my goals on my next birthday bucket list is to watch less tv. I've also realize that I need to give myself more time to complete my birthday bucket list. My next list, 21 Before 22, will start next month.

Happy Birthday, Me! + A Giveaway

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If you haven't caught on from reading previous posts from this week or from the title of this post, today is my 21st birthday! This time last year we decided to try for a baby and five weeks later we found out that I was five weeks pregnant. Nine months and five days later God brought this bouncing baby boy into our little family. It's been a crazy, emotional, stressful but wonderful year and I cannot wait to see what God has planned for my 21st year. 

We started birthday celebrations last Sunday with my family since it was the weekend between mine and my brother's birthdays. Tonight we are planning on going out to dinner as a family and back to our house for drinks. By law neither of us is allowed to drink at restaurants if William is along with us because we are both under the age of 25 so we are just going to get something to drink at home. A little note on our view of alcohol: Seth and I both think that drinking alcohol is fine as long as you do not drink to get drunk. We both waited until our 21st birthday to drink and Seth has never had more than one drink at a time and plan on doing the same. Obviously while breastfeeding I will not drink very often at all since I have to pump and dump afterwards. Those are just our opinions and I know some people feel differently and that's okay! Enough about all of that, it's time for the very last Birthday Week Giveaway!

Aside from my love of cheesy musicals, another thing you should know about me is that I love to shop at Target. It's kind of the thing that I do on a weekly basis with my mom and grandma. Sometimes I go to Target more than once a week or even more than once in a day. I may have a slight problem. Since Target is my favorite store and today is my birthday I thought it appropriate to giveaway a $10 Target gift card! 

One lucky winner will receive an email from me with (1) $10 Giftcard to Target. Once the winner is chosen I will email you the prize! This giveaway is open until September 22nd so be sure to enter soon and share with your friends! Don't forget: the Weleda giveaway ends tomorrow and the hand painted sign giveaway and ad spot giveaway are still open, but not for long!!

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Recipe // Easy Chocolate Cake + A Giveaway

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tomorrow is my birthday (in case you forgot despite all of the giveaways happening this week in honor of my birthday) and what better way to celebrate than with chocolate cake. This is my mom's famous chocolate cake recipe which my brother and I both request every year for our birthdays (and since our birthdays are [2 years and] 6 days apart we got this cake two weeks in a row). My mom makes it with some amazing peanut butter frosting but I was feeling vanilla buttercream this week and since it's my birthday, I made chocolate cake with vanilla frosting (frosting recipe from Whipperberry). Delicious.
Forgive my awful frosting job, cake decorating is not my strong suit, but I'm going to work on that. This cake is not a dense, fudgy cake but rather a light, fluffy cake that pairs best with light rather than dense frostings. Eat at your own pace though, the light texture makes you think that you can just keep on eating and before you know it, you've polished off half of the cake. Now I'm not saying that has happened before, but......

Don't forget that tomorrow is the last day to enter the giveaway for $20 store credit to the Printable Wisdom shop! And be sure to keep reading after the recipe for today's Birthday Week Giveaway: A free Featured Ad Spot on Little City Adventures!
Yields: 1 cake          Prep Time: 10 minutes          Bake Time: 30-50 minutes          Total Time: 1 hour + cooling

Ingredients:
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups hot water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease and flour a 9" round cake pan or 9x13" pan (this cake seems to bake best in a 9x13" glass casserole dish but for the cake of appearances I made a 9" round cake).
2. In a large bowl, cream together sugar, oil, and eggs. Set aside.
3. In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
4. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix together hot water and cocoa powder until powder has dissolved and you have hot chocolate.
5. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with cocoa. Mix until smooth. Note: This is a very runny batter.
6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. After 30 minutes check the cake at five minute intervals until the toothpick comes out clean. 
7. If you baked it in a cake pan wait until the pan is cool to the touch to remove it and then continue to allow the cake to cool on a wire cooling rack until completely cool before icing. This may take a few hours depending on the room temperature.

Before you start making this delicious cake, be sure to enter today's Birthday Week Giveaway! Today I am giving one lucky reader a free Featured Ad spot on my sidebar for 30 days(a $10 value + me as a blogging buddy!!). With this spot you will get me as a blogger buddy (if we're not already buds) and I'll give your blog or small business weekly social media shoutouts and you get the opportunity to write a guest post or donate an item from your business for a giveaway. Little City Adventures is literally growing more everyday so this is a great value. See the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway.
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Some Q&A + A Giveaway

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Little City Adventures is literally growing a little bit more every single day. I am so thankful for each and every one of my readers, hence the week of giveaways that is currently going on. Since there are so many new readers perusing my blog I thought this would be a fun time to do a little Q&A. I sent out requests on Twitter and Facebook for people to ask me questions, silly or serious, on any topic and I got a lot of feedback! Check out my answers to some of those questions below and keep reading for an awesome giveaway at the end of the post.

Q: What inspired you to start blogging and what helps you to stay inspired to continue? - Bethany of Southern Couture
A: I started Little City Adventures a few months before our wedding last year and at the time I started it as a creative outlet and also used it as a way to de-stress. I also started Little City Adventures because I have loved blogging for years! I've had a countless number of blogs and Tumblr accounts since I was in 8th grade (2008) and it wasn't until I created Little City Adventures that I really found my niche. Most of the time blogging is easy for me solely because I love it so much. But sometimes I do feel a bit uninspired. To spark my inspiration and creativity I often browse on Pinterest, scroll through my Bloglovin' feed, follow amazing photographers and foodies on Instagram, and I also keep a master list of post ideas on Evernote.

Q: How have you adjusted to...being a stay at home mom? - Savannah of Savvy Darling
A: When I was little, I'm talking as young as five years old, all I truly wanted to be when I grew up was a mom. As I grew up some dreams changed but being a mom was always a constant. Finally (ha I make it sound like waiting 20 years to be a mom is so long), my dream has come true. Despite all of the nonsense that follows new moms postpartum, I love being a mom and I love staying home! My son is the best and just the cutest thing in the world, he never fails to make me smile. I've been working on balancing baby, house chores, and blogging during the day and I think William and I are starting to find that balance.

Q: When and why did you first start blogging and how has your blog and writing style evolved since the blog's beginning? - Meghan of A Northern Belle
A: My first and one of my worst blog posts on Little City Adventures was published in March 2013 and when I went back to find it, it looks like I deleted it, which is a good thing. Since I started my blog over a year ago I have become much more serious about it with the goal and full intention of turning it into a business. With those goals in mind I have started to take more time when writing my posts, planning ahead of time and sometimes taking well over two hours to write one post. In my writing I have tried to be me more careful with grammar and typos (but I am aware that I'm not always perfect) and I've tried to just write more in general on each post.  

Q: What is your favorite ice cream flavor? - Betsy of Heavens to Betsy
A: My favorite ice cream flavor is ice cream. If you put practically any ice cream flavor in front of me, I will eat it. My childhood favorite is chocolate chip cookie dough but I also love mint chocolate chip and anything with chocolate in it. My favorite store-bought ice cream brand is Turkey Hill and my favorite local ice cream shop is Carmen & David's.

Q: What is your all-time favorite song(s)? - Stephanie of Just a Little Bit Louder
A: This is a really hard question. After a quick scroll through my iTunes library, a few songs that never get old to me include: 
"Love Shack" by The B-52's - inside joke with my family
"Moon River" by Henry Mancini (from 'Breakfast at Tiffany's) - I love Audrey and 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'
"Jesus Freak" by dc Talk - how can you not love this classic 
"You're the One That I Want" by John Travolta & Olivia Newton John - I love cheesy musicals
"Beat It" by Michael Jackson - um duh
"Meant to Live" by Switchfoot - another great Christian classic

Q: What has been the biggest adjustment [with being a new mom]? - Rachel of Officialy Stoked
A: One of the biggest adjustments I've had to make since William made his arrival was the change in my schedule. Especially now that I'm home with him everyday, I've not only had to change what I do during the day but how I do things and I can't always get nearly as much done in a day as I used to. But that's okay, because I can just look over and see my happy baby and maybe get some baby cuddles and everything is alright.

Now that you have gotten to know me a little bit better, I want to introduce you to my dear friend Abbey, owner of In Colour, a local art + creative business. Abbey has so kindly offered to give one lucky reader a beautiful handmade and hand painted pallet sign (a $26 value!).

Aside from this beautiful sign, Abbey has a passion for "creation unique, handcrafted wood and palleted signs with hand painted and calligraphy lettering and designs." She also hosts Creative Workships out of her adorable home in Downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. At a Creative Workshop Abbey provides you with all of the supplies necessary to create a beautiful piece of art to take home. If you are not in Lancaster or unable to attend an open house or Creative Workshop, Abbey does take custom orders so head on over to her Facebook page to find out more.

One reader will receive a (1) 7"x7" handmade pallet sign (pictured below) with a whitewashed background and calligraphy lettering (a $26 value!!). Once the winner is chosen, I will shoot the winner an e-mail to find out where I should mail the sign to! This giveaway is open to residents of the continental United States only. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Don't forget to try your hand at the rest of the giveaways during my Birthday Week Giveaways.

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*this giveaway is sponsored by In Colour.

Organizing Baby's Dresser + A Giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014

You can never be truly prepared for baby and most things, you won't be able to work on until you know what baby needs and what is easiest for during those midnight feedings. You will also continue to receive things for baby until everybody has met him. Along with diapers, clothing, in all sizes, was one of the top gifts we received for William which mean I had to find room in his dresser. If you don't have the room you could store everything in neatly labeled boxes in a hall closet until you are ready for them but I have found it handy to have the next size readily available since William seems to grow overnight.
I try to keep the top of his dresser clutter free so that nothing gets in the way when he's being a squirmy little worm during changes, I can easily get to everything that I need and get things done quickly. We use Target's Up & Up unscented wipes for sensitive skin but put them into an old Pamper's wipes box. Then, in the corner, I have a 1oz mason jar of coconut oil which I use on his bum and then the two best lotions for William that I try to use them on a daily basis. Weleda is such a great company that they have generously offered to give one lucky reader each of these products (a $31 value)! Keep reading to find out how to enter.
For obvious reasons it's easiest to have the most used items at easy reach. The first drawer holds all of the clothes that currently fit him. William is long and skinny, just like his daddy, so despite being 2 1/2 months old he fits into a combination of some newborn and 0-3 month clothing. Since I'm OCD and weird I have his onesies organized by type. At the top left we have his plain white onesies and the top right corner holds those onesies that he only wears to bed or if he spits up on everything else. His "good" onesies are in the bottom left corner and beside those are his pants, which are all still newborn because his waist is tiny but they are quickly becoming too short for his long legs, and above his pants I just have whatever hats fit him although he hates hats and doesn't wear them often.

The second drawer is his awesomely stocked diaper drawer. We keep his boxes of diapers stacked in the hall closet, the current size he wears as well as the next size (you don't want to realize he needs the next size up and not have it on hand). In the drawer we have his favorite diapers (duh!) which are Target's Up & Up brand then in the corner of the drawer I cleaned out and repurposed a Bath & Body Works candle jar to hold sample skin care products, a thermometer, and a few similar items. I also keep a jar of vaseline in there so I can coat the tip of the thermometer in it before taking his temperature (yes, I am one of those paranoid moms that takes her kid's temperature even when he's acting fine, just in case).
The middle drawers hold the next few sizes of clothing. The drawer on the left is mostly 0-3 month and 3 month clothing and the drawer on the right is mostly 3-6 month and 6-9 month clothing. He has so many size 0-3 month size pants that just about fit his waist but are still too long. He's just like me, always an awkward size.
The bottom drawer holds clothing larger than 9 months and extra blankets/quilts and bedding. I'm fairly certain that William literally never stops peeing. Seriously. Every time I look at him the wetness indicator line on his diaper has turned to blue. So even though he wears a diaper and wakes up at least once at night, there have been a few times when he's peed his pants and once he peed so much that all of his clothes were completely soaked including his sheets. Take it from me mamas, even though they're little, keep extra bedding handy just in case.

Now that you've seen how I organize William's dresser, and hopefully gotten some ideas for your own baby's dresser, it's time for another Birthday Week Giveaway! The wonderful company Weleda has graciously offered to give one lucky mama the Baby Derma White Mallow collection which includes face cream and body lotion. Since reviewing them, these products have remained a daily staple for keeping William's skin healthy and smooth. For more information on the products be sure to check out my review of them but here's a quick run down:

- awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance
- certified 100% natural
- great for babies born into families with history of sensitive skin
- fragrance free
...basically, you can feel 100% comfortable with what you're putting on your baby's sensitive skin!
One lucky winner will receive (1) White Mallow Body Lotion, valued at $17, and (1) White Mallow Face Cream, valued at $14. That's a $31 value!! The giveaway runs until September 19th so be sure to enter and share it with your friends before then! Once the winner is chosen I will e-mail the winner for their address and Weleda will send the products to the winner directly. Any questions? Shoot me an email at littlecityadventures@gmail.com or ask in the comments below, I really do read each comment! After entering this giveaway be sure to enter yesterday's giveaway for store credit to Printable Wisdom, there's only three days left in the giveaway.
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*this giveaway is sponsored by Weleda.