Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Birthday to My 11-Year-Old!

Happy Birthday to my sweet daughter on her 11th birthday! I cannot even believe that 11 years ago -- at 4:55am -- my husband and I welcomed our first child. Our lives were changed forever and we wouldn't have it any other way! She is a beautiful, funny, intelligent, talented girl and we could not be more proud of her!

Happy "TIDOL" my sweet Lulubelle! We love you!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Muppet Cupcakes

My sweet girl is turning 11 tomorrow -- I can hardly stand it! She is a huge fan of The Muppets and asked for a Muppets cake for her birthday. I checked with our grocery store which has all sorts of character cakes -- no Muppets! I checked with the party store to see if they had anything -- still no luck! I thought about making a cake and trying to do something Muppet-related, but she's having 2 little parties tomorrow -- a brunch party at 11:00am with Grandpa & Gramby, and a bowling party with 3 of her girlfriends at 1:30pm.

I didn't want to make 2 different cakes, and I didn't want to serve the same cake twice! So cupcakes it was! I decided to do my interpretation of the 3 main Muppet characters -- Kermit, Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear. I made chocolate cupcakes (her favorite) and let them cool. Then I used 2 containers of vanilla frosting and mixed 3 main colors -- light green for Kermit, pink for Miss Piggy, and an orange color for Fozzie -- he's kind of a brown/orange -- the color I made looked pretty close to the picture that I was using for reference. I had food coloring at home, so I bought the frosting and I bought 1 tube of black decorating frosting ($2?) and I used a thin decorating tip on the end (a 4-pack cost me $2 - $3 and I can wash and reuse them). I frosted the cupcakes with the main color -- 8 of each character. Then using a plastic sandwich bag as a pastry bag, I had some plain vanilla frosting that I squeezed out of a tiny hole in the corner. This is how I made the eyes -- oval for Kermit and Miss Piggy and round for Fozzie. I took another sandwich bag and put a little vanilla frosting with some blue food coloring to make Miss Piggy's eyes. Then I took the black tube of frosting and put in the details on all of their eyes -- eyeliner for Miss Piggy, the "-+-" kind of symbol on Kermits eyes, and then just big round pupils for Fozzie. I'm certainly no artist, but it worked in a pinch and I think these came out cute. And most importantly, my girl LOVES them! She told me that the Kermit, in particular were the best looking cupcakes she's ever seen (she's flattering me, I know, but it's super sweet)!

I bought some green napkins and plates and ordered some balloons in green, pink, and orange to help make her feel like she's having a Muppets party. Actually, even though I couldn't find any character party supplies, I think it's a great compromise and probably a "cool" 11-year-old version of a Muppets party! ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tip for Packing Children's Clothes for Travel

We are heading out this weekend to visit our family in Long Island -- to celebrate Christmas! (And then after that we are really done with the season for this year!!) We have been racing around finishing our Christmas shopping (crazy!) and making some homemade gifts for our Kris Kringle gift exchange with my husband's siblings -- I can't wait to show the two things that I made (found them from a fellow blogger's site -- loved them!!) -- I'll show you pictures and include a link after we get back! I grocery shopped on lunch today, took the girls for a visit to see my grandmother who recently moved into a nursing home -- one quick visit before we head out of town! -- my husband has been doing laundry, we've packaged up gifts, packed bags to entertain the kids (and me!) in the car -- you name it! My eldest daughter has a chorus concert tomorrow night so we are trying to get everything done and have the car packed before we go tomorrow so that we can get up and head out by 5:00am on Friday (yikes!).

I am a terrible packer of clothing -- my own and my children's. We're taking a short trip, but I don't know about the weather and we are going out one night and of course I hate everything in my closet -- so I'm bringing all of it in the hopes that I'll like it better when I'm looking at it in someone else's mirror... All week I've been throwing things into bags and every time we go on a trip I find that I a) over pack, and b) throw in weird combinations of clothes for my children "just in case..." Tonight, I took a deep breath and I decided to organize by outfit -- particularly for my 5-year-old. She counts on us to lay her clothes out for her, and tonight I thought the most organized way to do it would be to put together whole outfits -- top, bottom, underwear, undershirt, socks or stockings. Once I did that, I took the undergarments and the socks/stockings and I opened up the "top" for the outfit and I tucked everything inside. So in her bag, I don't have a sea of underwear and socks and undershirts -- I have complete outfits, ready to go! I even took the time to put them in order of when I planned for her to wear them. Jammies for the first night on top, outfit for a birthday party, outfit for Christmas celebration, comfy outfit for the car ride home. I did pack 2 spare outfits -- just in case. And on my dresser is an outfit for her all ready for the early morning car ride on Friday.

Sometimes I think I am saving myself time by grabbing things and throwing them in a bag whenever I have a moment to spare -- this time I took a little extra time, concentrated on what I was doing and organized her bag. It probably took me 15 - 20 minutes at the most and it will save me time and headaches on our trip!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Delicious Black-Eyed Pea Dip for New Year's

Last night for New Year's dinner, we had a bunch of fun appetizers to feel a little festive for the holiday. The girls rounded their dinners out with a Boca (veggie) burger for my eldest and a hot dog for my little one. I was not sure if they would like any of the things I was making for my husband and I, and as it turns out, one appetizer was a HUGE hit with the girls! I have always heard that it's tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day to bring luck in the coming year -- I thought, who couldn't use more luck, why not give it a try! I only discovered black-eyed peas this past summer when I started making this great corn/bean salsa recipe that a friend of mine gave me. I could have made that again, but on The Pioneer Woman's website, I found a recipe for a hot bean dip using black-eyed peas, so I thought I'd try it out.

This is the Pioneer Woman's sister-in-law's recipe, which you can find on her website. I made a couple of slight adjustments in the hope that my children would give it a try. They loved it -- especially my little 5-year-old! She started eating it with tortilla chips and eventually gave that up for a fork! I told my husband that we'll have to make this again and we could even put some in a flour tortilla and roll it up for bean burritos!

"Zannie's Black-Eyed Pea Dip" from The Pioneer Woman


1 can (14-ounce) Can Black-eyed Peas
1/4 whole Onion, Chopped Fine --- I used less onion than this
1/4 cup Sour Cream
8 slices Jarred Jalapenos --- I skipped these for the kids
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
3 Tablespoons Salsa
Hot Sauce, to taste --- I used some Frank's Red Hot
Salt And Black Pepper To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain black-eyed peas and partially mash, leaving some whole. Add all other ingredients, stirring to combine. Spread into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips!

*Note: if you have them available, you can use the canned black-eyed peas and jalapenos (they're canned together.) If you do this, you can omit the extra jalapenos.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Acting Our Age

I have been a mother for nearly eleven years - more than a quarter of my life! And yet lately, I sometimes still find it hard to believe that I'm the mom... My eldest daughter is going to be 11 in January and she has grown several inches this past year - my husband is over 6' tall and my girl has been blessed with long legs. Lately, when we are walking together, I look over at her and I can look her in the eye! I find that most of the time, in my head, I feel as though I am still about 22... How can I possibly have a child in the 5th grade? Crazy.

The other night my husband and I let her invite two of her best friends over for a sleepover. I took my daughters out to pick the girls up, and on the way back home, I stopped to get gas. I left the girls giggling in the minivan and I got out to pump the gas. Walking to the pump, hearing the girls' laughter, I caught my reflection in the window of my minivan - looking back at me was a mom! When did that happen? We got home and I did all of the mom sleepover things - asking the kids what they liked on their pizza, what would they like to drink, let's make sure that everyone has enough blankets, etc. Coming downstairs in the middle of the night to tell the girls (again) that it was time to go to bed - big mom moment. It's a funny thing to get that reality check that I'm a long way from that young girl, giggling with my own friends at sleepovers.

And I wasn't the only one having a hard time accepting my age... My little five-year-old was desperately wanting to be one of the older girls! It was hard for her at accept that this was her sister's time to spend with her friends and that her time will come. And I did remind my eldest daughter that it wouldn't hurt to be nice to her sister and to not brush her aside. I try to remind them both at times that friends leave after play dates and sleepovers, but their sisters will still be here - so be nice!

Funny how I have a hard time believing that I'm a mom, and yet I'm very comfortable speaking like one! ;)