Back in California

We did it! We ripped off the bandaid and made our way to the mainland. Like I mentioned in this post, Hawaii is a hard place to leave. But we did it. 

Luckily, for us, it has proven itself to be the right move for our family. Being near to so much of our family and friends has been great, especially for the kids. 

Our new house has so much room for the kids to play – both indoors and out. We have been able to host loved ones for meals. Our neighbors are great. It has really been such a blessing. 

The cooler weather isn’t half bad either 😉

Of course, we miss our friends. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million more times – we met the most amazing people in Hawaii. I am so thankful for the technology that allows us to stay connected with them from so far away. 

Now that we are (mostly) settled, I’ll be posting more about this new chapter in our lives! We’ve got a lot of new ground to explore here. 

 

 

 

 

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Preparing Your Home for Summer Guests

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

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Once you move to Hawaii, people seem to line up to come visit you. This year, we have had visitors from the mainland at least once per month, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Our current set up allows us a spare bedroom that we use for guests which is so great because we love hosting family and friends in our home.   

This week, we have had the pleasure of hosting our good friends Lisa and Kyle. They flew in from Georgia last weekend and we have been having a blast showing them around the island. 

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When preparing for guests, I like to go beyond the basic sheet-changing and room-tidying by putting together small welcome packages. These small gifts make their arrival a little more special and really help the tone for their vacation. 

These welcome gifts are fun and easy to put together. I like to include… 

A coffee mug for each guest. Because we are in Hawaii, I like to give each guest a Hawaiian-themed mug. Something that they probably can’t get where they live. They can use it throughout the duration of their trip if they don’t feel comfortable going through your cupboards in the morning or just take it home with them as a fun souvenir. 

Postcards, pre-stamped. love getting snail mail – especially postcards from people on vacation! Make sure you throw a stamp on them so that they are ready to be dropped in the mailbox without any extra effort from your guests. 

Fresh towels. I always loved using the big, fluffy towels on vacation and don’t want to rob my guests of that feeling just because they are staying at our house instead of a hotel 😉 Pick up a new towel and washcloth for each guest to use during their stay (I try to get two different colors so they are easy to keep track of). Your guests can either take the towels home with them or leave them for you to add to your collection when they are done. 

Passwords. Share with them any information about the wifi connection in your home, or other important passwords they may need. I printed out this info and put it in a pretty frame to make it more appealing. 

vitaminwater Zero. There is a lot to see on this beautiful island so our guests are usually hit the ground running and don’t stop. It is so important that they stay hydrated when out in the hot Hawaiian sun so I like to include a few bottles of vitaminwater Zero. Vitamins. Electrolytes. Delicious. Zero blah. 

WELCOME GIFT SETUP

I leave a few bottles on top of the desk in the bedroom and let our guests know where in the house that they can find more. Sam’s Club sells large packages of vitaminwater Zero (20 in a pack) which is great because it makes it easy to have more on hand to ensure our guests are staying hydrated while on the go without having to stop and pick up more while they are out adventuring. 

SAMS CLUB VITAMIN WATER

Between now and April 30th, you can save $3.50 on the large packs of vitaminwater Zero at Sam’s Club with their in-store offer. It’s really a great deal! Click here to find them at the Sam’s Club nearest you. 

What would you want to find in a welcome package?

 

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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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DIY Thanksgiving Wreath

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

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I love Thanksgiving. The food, the traditions, the nostalgia – all of it. It’s the perfect kick-off to the busy holiday season and something that I look forward to every year.

Since getting married four years ago, I have been telling my husband that I can’t wait to host Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, between not having a big enough space and our traveling to see other family, I haven’t had my chance yet.

This year, I will be much too pregnant to travel off-island and we have a home large enough to host family and friends so it looks like I’m finally getting my chance!

To say that I am excited is an understatement but I’m trying hard not to go overboard with the planning and preparation.

My main goal when doing any kind of hosting is comfort. No matter how great your kitchen and decorating skills are, your guests will eventually forget what you served them to eat, but they will always remember how you made them feel. That’s why creating an authentically warm, relaxing, and comfortable environment is key.

I feel most at peace in my own home when things are tidied up. I know that my guests will feed off of my energy, so I will be spending some time sprucing up the main living areas of our home before the big day to make sure that I am able to relax.  The last time I was at Walmart, I picked up a few of my clean-house essentials: Scrubbing Bubbles® Toilet Cleaning Gel, Scrubbing Bubbles® Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner and Windex® Original Glass Wipes. (Bonus: there is an awesome rebate going on right now which saves you $5 on your holiday photos)

PRODUCTS

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Cleaning up the house, especially when you have a meal to plan/cook is a big job but with the right cleaning products and some holiday tunes turned up nice and loud it’s a big, fun job.

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^My brother kindly demonstrating how easy and fun cleaning the bathroom with the Windex® Original Glass Wipes is. Isn’t he the best?

After the house is clean, and before I get to cooking, I’ll make sure that our house is decorated festively for the occasion with some traditional items and a special Thanksgiving wreath.

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We all know to expect the “what are you thankful for” activity at the Thanksgiving dinner table but none of us likes to be put on the spot, right? I know I don’t. I think this is especially true when sitting around the table with strangers or a new group of people. (think your first Thanksgiving with your significant other’s family or maybe a group of your parent’s colleagues) but also applies to those dining with family and loved ones that they see all of the time.

Even though I have SO much to be thankful for, and love spending time reflecting on them, my naturally introverted self sometimes cringes at situations like these. To combat that awkwardness, and to make sure that all of my guests feel comfortable this Thanksgiving, I created this wreath that we will incorporate during dinner time.

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The wreath is already hanging above our piano. Underneath, I have a box with pre-cut “thanks” circles and some pieces of leather cord. The idea is that from now until Thanksgiving, anyone who comes into my house can write down what they are thankful for and tie it onto the wreath. Guests who are here only for the day will have their opportunity to write down what they are thankful for while they are mingling and waiting for our meal.

THANKSGIVING-WREATH

During dinner, I will remove all of the circles from the wreath, divide them equally amongst our guests and we will take turns reading off what we are all thankful for. Of course, anybody can share more if they are so inclined but I believe that by having this anonymous way of sharing what we are thankful for will ensure that all of my guests feel comfortable, welcomed and pressure-free.

Sounds great, right? If you want to make a Thanksgiving wreath of your own, please feel free to download this free printable which gives you twelve “thanks” circles per page. Once you have the circles printed and cut out, punch a single hole into the top of the circle, cut some string and lay those items out with some pens.

I have so much to be thankful for this year – our wreath is going to be pretty full by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. I’m looking forward to it! That and, of course, the food. You can find more #HappyThanksgathering inspiration here. 

 

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Sweet Potato Banana Muffins

 

These days I can’t step into the kitchen without a certain toddler following me saying “pleeeeaaassseeee”. 

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She has discovered where all of those delicious “mum mums” that mom and dad bring to her come from and she wants in on as much of that action as she can get.

A girl after my own heart…errr stomach.

Hearing her little voice say “please” is basically the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard and it’s really hard to turn her down so I figured it was time for me to make something healthy for her to snack on. 

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Enter these sweet potato and banana mini muffins. They are quick & easy to make, have only four main ingredients, and are toddler-approved. 

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You trying saying “no” to that face. 

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Homemade Ranch Dressing + Pizza = Homegating Heaven

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

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Pizza and ranch. In our house, it’s as classic of a combo as peanut butter & jelly. Chip and Dale. Salt and pepper. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. 

You get the picture. 

We’ve always planned for pizza night to happen in our house at least once per week but, now that football season is in full swing, I have a feeling that it’s going to happen a lot more often. 

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There isn’t a national football team representing our great state of Hawaii so we don’t have the opportunity to attend any games in person however this leaves plenty of Sundays open for us to cheer on our favorite teams with some good old-fashioned homegating.

What is homegating, you ask? You know…all the goodness of tailgating before a game…just done at home. No worries about weather conditions, lack of bathrooms, or nap space for your kids. PLUS you have access to your kitchen. Which means instead of grilling up the same game day food every week, you can serve yummy alternatives like Red Baron pizzas. With homemade ranch dressing of course (because there is no better pair, remember?)

Homemade ranch dressing is SO delicious and a lot easier to make than you probably think. You start off with a base mixture of dry ingredients (pepper, garlic salt, dried onion and dill weed), add them to a combo of fresh ingredients (buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, mayonnaise and fresh parsley), give it a stir and you’re done!

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Easy peasy lemon squeezy. (HA – see what I did there?!)

Anyways, back to homegating. Your homemade ranch dressing is sitting in the fridge, patiently waiting for it’s chance to wow your family and friends so it’s time to prepare the pizza. You could stick to the homemade route OR you could stay on the quick and easy train and pop a few Red Baron pizzas in the oven. Which one are you going to choose? I vote quick and easy, especially when the big game is about to start. 

I know you are thinking why on earth, if I’m trying to “wow” my guests, would I serve frozen pizzas? I would be too…if I hadn’t tried Red Baron pizzas. Seriously guys, these pizzas are delicious. The people over at Red Baron have perfected their crust game in a way that I simply haven’t been able to yet — it’s crispy, consistent and oh-so satisfying. One bite of any of their pizzas and I’m sure your family and friends will be asking for more. 

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You can pick up a few Red Baron pizzas the next time you find yourself at Walmart (which I highly suggest doing before the next big game). They are located in the frozen goods aisle of the grocery section. While you are there, make sure to pick up an Edwards Pie to share with the fans of the winning team. Because victory is sweet. So is pie. (Get it? Man, I’m on a roll today) The Edwards Pies are also located in the frozen section and will keep your homegating prep nice and easy – all you have to do is thaw and serve!

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When you are shopping, keep an eye out for the Red Baron products that have the on-package promo materials for the Tailgate at Your Place Sweepstakes. Our friends at Red Baron are giving away over $100,000 in prizes – including checks, shopping sprees and 6 months of free pizza PLUS there are a bunch of instant win prizes that are up for grabs. 

Which Red Baron pizza are you going to pick up for the next big game?

Homemade Ranch Dressing
Creamy, fresh, delicious homemade ranch dressing
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Print
DRY INGREDIENTS
  1. 1/4 cup black pepper
  2. 1/2 cup garlic salt
  3. 3/4 cup dried onion
  4. 2 TB dill weed
  5. WET/FRESH INGREDIENTS
  6. 1 cup mayonnaise
  7. 1 cup buttermilk
  8. 3/4 cup sour cream
  9. 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  10. juice of 1 lemon
Instructions
  1. Combine dry ingredients in glass jar, replace lid and shake to combine.
  2. Add mayonnaise, buttermilk and sour cream to medium sized bowl. Stir until smooth.
  3. Add 1 TB of dry mixture to wet ingredients. Stir to combine.
  4. Add juice of 1 lemon to wet ingredients, followed by chopped parsley. Stir until combined.
  5. Place dressing into storage container and store in refrigerator.
Notes
  1. Together, these dry ingredients will make a lot of extra ranch dressing mix. Store it in an air-tight container for future batches of ranch dressing, sprinkle it on chicken before cooking or gift some to a friend!
BRINGING UP BYRDS http://www.natashabyrd.com/


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Back to Ewa

The Byrds are on the move (again)

Last year, we did some major downsizing and left our little blue house in Ewa Beach for a charming little studio (in my Auntie and Uncle’s backyard) in Kahala. The move came at the perfect time for our family and we could not be more thankful that we have had to opportunity to be here for as long as we have. 

aloha, little blue house

^old house

Our current space is cozy and totally gets the job done, but as we get ready to bring another little Byrd home we need to move on to a bigger nest (I know, I’m sorry. I can’t help myself)

We have spent so much time looking at places and weighing our options. Should we buy or should we rent? Should we stay in town or go back to the west side? What about Kailua?! I have made about a zillion pros/cons lists and probably made Alex crazy with my indecisiveness (sorry, babe) all to decide that we are going to go back to the neighborhood in Ewa that we fell in love with when we first moved here.

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^ can’t be mad at views like that!

I hate moving. All the packing and junk-sorting and unpacking is the worst but, I am excited to get into our new space and try to make it a home before little boy Byrd makes his appearance!

P.S. we are going to have an extra bedroom so book your tickets now!

 

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