Star Wars™ Viewing Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AwakenYourTastebuds #CollectiveBias

starwarsviewingpartyGrowing up, I was never a big Star Wars™ fan. (gasp, I know) I do remember seeing Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in theaters but that’s pretty much where my exposure to the franchise ended. My husband, however, has always loved the whole series and has brought me to the dark side converted me into a fan. 

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Alex has been sharing his excitement for the series with me by showing me all of the old movies. Of course, with two little ones keeping us busy (and a certain someone who has a tendency to fall asleep anytime a movie comes on at home…hint: it’s me), watching all of the movies is a slow (but fun) process.

We still have a few movies to go, and with not much time until the new movie comes out, we are going to have to marathon it if we want to catch up. So, instead of our usual stay-up-late-after-the-babies-go-to-sleep routine, I decided to set up a movie marathon station in our living room stocked with breakfast goodies so we can get a nice early start on our movie-watching.  

I found everything I needed to set up my Star Wars viewing party at Walmart. Since our party is going to start bright and early, I picked up some breakfast essentials to awaken our tastebuds: a few boxes of General Mills cereal and a fun box of Star Wars™ Go-Gurt.

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I also picked up some [Death Star] donut holes and [Princess Leia] cinnamon buns to add to our spread. 

Because we were going to be in it for the long haul, I wanted to make sure we were extra comfortable in the living room with no reason to get up for anything. Our TV sits on top of a big bookshelf, which I decided would be a perfect party headquarters. 

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I started by pulling everything off of the shelves and then lining the insides of each shelf with black poster paper. Then, I filled the shelf with all of our delicious goodies and some pillows and blankets for easy access. 

As a special treat, I made some frozen banana light sabers. Want to make your own? Here’s how:

  1. Peel and slice a banana into thirds
  2. Cover banana in yogurt
  3. Roll banana in cereal of your choice
  4. Place banana on popsicle sticks
  5. Place light sabers onto plate, cover lightly with saran wrap and place in freezer until yogurt hardens
  6. Remove from freezer, serve and enjoy!

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I love that this franchise is making a comeback. It’s so fun to see fans of the originals share their excitement with Star Wars™ newbies like me. Make sure you check out all the different ways you can #AwakenYourTastebuds here!

Will you be seeing the new movie opening weekend? Which Star Wars movie is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! 

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crinkle

Bust out those aprons – it’s cookie time! Between now and Christmas, I’ll be sharing 12 delicious cookie recipes for you to try. Share some with your neighbors, bring some to a cookie swap party, or keep them all for yourself. I won’t tell anyone. Promise.

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If you’re happy it the weekend and you know it clap your hands. CLAP CLAP. 

I am so thankful that it’s the weekend. The past few days have been full of doctors appointments, toddler meltdowns and figuring out our new dynamics as we venture out into public. Mentally, I’m exhausted and I am so very glad to have an extra set of hands around for a few days (husbands rock). 
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I don’t have much to say about these cookies (mainly because my brain is fried) except for the fact that I sent the whole batch to work with Alex and got an email the same day from one of his co-workers asking for my crack recipe. 

So, if you only make one cookie this weekend, let this be it. 

 

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Perfect chocolate cookie - almost like a brownie - rolled in powdered sugar. What's not to love?!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  2. 2 cups white sugar
  3. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  6. 2 cups all purpose flour
  7. 2 tsp baking powder
  8. 1 tsp salt
  9. 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (for coating)
Instructions
  1. Mix together the cocoa powder, sugar and oil in a medium bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix until smooth and shiny
  2. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the coca mix until smooth
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put into fridge for at least 4 hours
  4. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, coat each ball in powdered sugar and place onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper
  5. 5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack
Notes
  1. Make sure you chill this dough - it will be really hard to form into balls without doing so!
Adapted from Collecting Memories
BRINGING UP BYRDS http://www.natashabyrd.com/
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Gift Guide for the Disney Lover (and a giveaway!)

There are only two weeks left until Christmas. Can you believe it?!

I’m hoping to get some Christmas shopping done between doctors appointments today so, in the spirit of gift-giving, I’m sharing with you a gift guide for the Disney lover in your life. Plus, I have a fun giveaway for a Disney-inspired T-Shirt so make sure to enter at the end of this post!

gift guide for disney lover

Rooney & Renee T-Shirt || Everyone loves a good T-Shirt, right? Rooney & Renee created a line of Disney-inspired shirts that are not only cute but super soft and comfortable. 

Vans || Disney and Vans – could there be a sweeter collaboration? They recently released a few new styles, just in time for Christmas, and I am loving The Jungle Book print.  

Watch || A nice watch is a timeless Christmas gift (ha – see what I did there?!) and I love this tortoiseshell option from the Disney Store. Your Disney lover could dress it up or keep it casual while still rocking their Disney side. P.S. Did you know that tortoiseshell was one word?! I didn’t until today 😉

Bracelet || Alex and Ani bangles make a great gift. They have TONS of different styles (not only Disney) and can be really fun to collect. I have a Cinderella’s Castle and Aulani bangle and would like to get one for every trip we take. They recently released some Star Wars bangles that would be perfect for this holiday season.

Purse || I’ve got a thing for bags and, while I’ve never splurged on a brand-name bag, I’ve had this bad boy on my list for years. If your Disney lover is a bag-lady like me, I’m sure they will love it. 

Movie Tickets || Surprise your loved one with tickets to see the latest Disney flick (hello, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) even if they go to see it on opening night. 

Disney Day || Is the Disney lover in your life lucky enough to live near a Disney theme park? Give them the gift of a Disney day! Bonus points if you include a ticket for a friend. 

Cruise || If you really want to wow your Disney fan, surprise them with a Disney Cruise. Seriously, their cruises are the best and perfect for all ages. I’m all about experience gifts and this one would definitely top the cake (or the Mickey ice-cream sundae)

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Our friends at Rooney & Renee are giving away one of their awesome shirts to one of my readers. 

They recently sent me a shirt of my choice (I went with the Mermaid Lagoon shirt pictured on the left) so that I could provide an honest review and, guys, I swear this is the softest, most comfortable shirt that I own right now. The fit is great (I went with medium) and it held up perfectly in the wash. I love how subtle the Disney reference is and I’ve already got my eye on a few others.

Want one for yourself? All you have to do is visit their website, check out the designs and leave a comment here telling me which shirt you would choose. I’ll leave the giveaway open until Sunday, December 13th and choose a winner on Monday morning.

Good luck!

 

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip

Bust out those aprons – it’s cookie time! Between now and Christmas, I’ll be sharing 12 delicious cookie recipes for you to try. Share some with your neighbors, bring some to a cookie swap party, or keep them all for yourself. I won’t tell anyone. Promise. 

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Welcome to day 2 of my 12 days of Christmas cookies series.

Today I’m sharing with you a recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Sure, they don’t scream Christmas, but they are a classic that will sure to please the taste buds of any recipient. 

I love how hearty these cookies look – they remind me of big, chunky Christmas sweaters. 

The recipe is versatile – you can add in raisins, berries or really whatever else tickles your fancy. I made another batch the last night and threw in some holiday colored peanut M&M’s and they turned out great. 

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Pro-tip: just before baking, press a couple of extra chocolate chips into the top of each cookie to make them extra pretty (and chocolate-y)

Enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
11 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
11 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 egg
  2. 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  3. 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  4. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  6. 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned whole rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
  7. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  8. 1 tsp cinnamon
  9. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  10. pinch salt
  11. 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the egg, butter, sugars, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until well combined
  2. Add oats, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, optional salt, and beat on low speed until just combined
  3. Add the chocolate chips and beat on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in fridge for approx. 2 hours
  5. Roll dough into 1" balls and place onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  6. In an oven preheated to 350, bake cookies for 11 minutes or until edges are slightly brown
  7. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack
Notes
  1. Dough will still look undercooked when cookies are ready to be removed from oven, they will continue to cook so don't worry!
Adapted from Averie Cooks
Adapted from Averie Cooks
BRINGING UP BYRDS http://www.natashabyrd.com/
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Simon’s Birth Story

Little Simon Earl entered the world on Thanksgiving Day.

He hasn’t even been with us a full two weeks but, already, I can’t remember our lives without him. He has brought us joy beyond measure and I feel so lucky to be his mama. While I can’t say that our family is complete, I can tell you that it feels more whole and that is such a wonderful feeling. 

Simon Earl Byrd

In the past week I have drafted and deleted his birth story over and over. For some reason, the words never seem quite right, the details suddenly seem unimportant. So, instead, I’ve decided to give you the photo edition of his birth story (no gory shots, promise) and answer the most asked questions quickly at the end. 
THANKSGIVING

HOSPITAL

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Simon Earl Byrd (named after two of his great-grandparents)

November 26, 2015

10:13PM

8 pounds, 2 ounces || 20.5 inches

All-natural, unmedicated birth. 

No complications.

Sleeps and eats great. 

Has a great big sister who is helpful and loving. 

God is good. 

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12 Days of Christmas Cookies: Butter Pecan Cookie

Bust out those aprons – it’s cookie time! Between now and Christmas, I’ll be sharing 12 delicious cookie recipes for you to try. Share some with your neighbors, bring some to a cookie swap party, or keep them all for yourself. I won’t tell anyone. Promise. 
Butter Pecan Cookie Recipe

My contribution to our Thanksgiving meal this year was a big platter of cookies. I whipped up a few batches of these butter pecan cookies to add to the spread and, on the drive over, was instructed by Alex and my brother that we weren’t going to tell people how good these were so that there would be more for them. How’s that for holiday spirit? 😉

Of course, I caved as soon as someone asked me which one was best. Typical Natasha. 

butter pecan cookies

butter pecan cookies

We never got to see which cookie was the official crowd favorite since we had to end up leaving for the hospital but, I can tell you that at least half of the butter pecan cookies were gone before the turkey was out of the oven.

Just sayin’. 

butter pecan cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies
Yields 24
Soft, chewy and buttery cookie sure to be a crowd pleaser
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Prep Time
3 hr 30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
3 hr 40 min
Prep Time
3 hr 30 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
3 hr 40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups chopped pecans
  2. 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  3. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  4. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  5. 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  6. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  7. 2 1/2 cups flour
  8. 1 tsp cornstarch
  9. 1 tsp baking soda
  10. 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Place pecans on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast in oven for 5 minutes
  3. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl with hand-held mixer), beat the butter until smooth (approx. 1 minute)
  4. Add both sugars to bowl and beat until light and fluffy
  5. Beat in eggs and vanilla on high speed
  6. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients
  7. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture until well combined
  8. Add pecans and mix an addition 5-10 seconds until incorporated
  9. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 3 hours
  10. Remove dough from fridge and allow 15-20 minutes for it to warm slightly
  11. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  12. Bake in preheated oven for 10-11 minutes
  13. Allow to cool on cookie sheet approx. 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack
Notes
  1. For an extra sparkle and a little added sweetness, roll the dough in granulated sugar before placing on baking sheet!
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
BRINGING UP BYRDS http://www.natashabyrd.com/
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Christmas PJ Tradition

Happy Wednesday, folks. The topic of the home for the holidays bloghop today is traditions and I can’t wait to read all about yours, so make sure to add your link below! 

A few years ago, my cousin, Addie, Alex and I decided to start the Christmas PJ tradition for our family. Each year, we all get a new pair of comfy jammies to wear while opening our Christmas presents all day. After presents and breakfast, we head outside to grab a quick shot of the people we are spending our Christmas morning with. 

Christmas 2012 Christmas 2013 Christmas 2014

I love looking back at these photos and seeing how much our family has changed/grown. It’s hard to believe that this year we have another little baby to add to the photo. Who’s going to hold Rocco?! 

I’m currently on the hunt for our PJs for this year and am having a hard time deciding if I want to go with classic matchy-matchy family jammies or something ridiculous. I also really want to find a good deal since we are now shopping for four. Any suggestions?! 

 

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