Friday, December 02, 2011

Save the Date! {Cookies Across America Day: December 10}

It's a quiet, cold, snowy day here in Northern New York. The kind of day where I grab myself a cup of hot chocolate laced with pumpkin pie spice, start a fire in my wood burning stove (you do NOT want to see my heating bill in the winter months!), and check out all the cookie recipes I'm planning for Cookies Across America Day.

Once a year, usually, we pause and reflect on what we've been blessed with. Health, family, love, a job, a house, food, warmth... you know... the usuals. It's around this time of year that we not only count our own blessings, but we try to share those blessings with those less fortunate. I have my specific charities that I must give to every year, but it's fun to add a new one!



The Cookies Across America movement was started by Allrecipes.com last year, and this year Taste of Home and Nestle have gotten in on the fun! The idea behind Cookies Across America is to share your love of baking with anyone less fortunate. A county children's home, a women's shelter, local Ronald McDonald House, people at church who need a hug, etc. Think big, or think small. There are so many ways you can participate in this, and all it takes is You, a batch of cookies, and a desire to warm someone's heart :)

On December 10, my teenage daughter, Louisa and I are planning a cookie baking party with several of her friends. Luckily for my husband, he'll be off on a hunting trip that weekend ;) Each of the boys get to invite a friend over as well, to help keep them occupied in case they get bored of 6 hours worth of baking and girl-talk!

We sent out invitations that look like chocolate chip cookies, and we asked each person to bring one baking supply. I realize some people might not show up, so I have back-up supplies just in case.

Because we're a military family, and we almost always have friends deployed overseas, Louisa and I chose to mail our cookies to a few of our friends who are spending the holidays far away from home. Having gone through a handful of Christmases without our daddy (husband), we know that those deployed soldiers absolutely LOVE getting packages of homemade goodies (and sharing them with everyone else!)

We narrowed our large, overambitious list of cookies down to 4 must-have Christmas cookies:
  • Snowballs
  • Gingerbread Cut-Outs (Louisa didn't want to limit it to "boys", she wants to use all of our Christmas cookie cutters)
  • Peppermint Bark

The last cookie is a new recipe that we recently discovered on tasteofhome.com, and I'm about to bake some up today for Husband to take to work tomorrow. I made some the other day and the soldiers keep asking for more!

If you need any more ideas or information on how to get started with your own Cookies Across America day, you can check out Taste Of Home's page HERE for recipes, and HERE for ideas on where/how to donate. If you are doing the Facebook thing, then you must go LIKE the Cookies Across America page :)

I'd love to hear about your project! Be sure to come back and tell me :)

I'm off to bake cookies, armed with my Nestle Toll House apron, Cookies Across America {I baked!} button, and other assorted essentials :)

**~Have a scrumptious time baking, and give with open hearts~**

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A day of dads

Today is November 12.
My dad's birthday.
The day we laid my father-in-law to rest last year.
And Louisa and Husband's Adoption Anniversary.

What a day. I consider it the "day of dads". I was happy to finally get to see my dad on his birthday last year, yet it wasn't under the best circumstances. I am happy to be able to celebrate my husband's special day, but it will probably be bittersweet to him now.

I was thinking today about all the dads that have affected my life. I have my Grandad (dad's dad), my Grandpa (mom's dad), my dad, my father-in-law. And also, my own husband. He's a dad who is in my life, even if he's not mine. I entrust him with the single most important job I have to give anyone, so he plays a big role as a dad in my life.

My two grandpa's meant the world to me. They were both special in their own ways. My Grandad was funny, and always had a crazy far-fetched story to tell. He'd get me, hook, line, and sinker every time. I have no clue how many of those stories were true, false, or exaggerated, but I believed 'em all. My Grandad taught me that hard work could lead to a life of relaxing leisure if you took care of your finances right.

My Grandpa and I were best buddies my entire childhood. I did say good-bye to him earlier this year, but the things he taught me, and how he helped raise me, and how he was always there for me no matter what, will always stay with me. My grandpa was a difficult person to get along with. He wasn't always nice to everyone around him, and he didn't always take care of his family right, but he was my grandpa and I loved him.

My dad and I worked at finding things in common, like a good father and daughter will do. Music, some sports, some academics or world happenings, etc. We can talk about anything. He's taught me a lot about being a grown up and dealing with things in grown up ways.

My father-in-law taught me a little about family, and how it's always worth fighting for. He never gave up on his kids, even at times when they gave up on him.

My husband has taught me tremendous amounts about family, love, friendship, sacrifice, and forgiveness. I haven't always been the best wife, and his forgiveness exceeds anything I've ever known.

I think that I will always celebrate the dads in my life on this day. It seems fitting to keep them all close to me, and give them all a day where I reflect on a past, and future, where fathers play such a big role in my life.
Link

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Cupcakes

In the mood for some Halloween cupcakes?!
Come on over to Chaos Cupcakes to check out what I made today for a Halloween party!

Here's a sneak peak..........

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Disappointment

This is my disappointment:


I have many, but this was a big one.
I bounced back, like I always do. I may even get another chance.
Good-bye disappointment.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dear God,

Dear God,

So many people are weighing on my heart.

I feel that prayer is the only place to start.

Giving up the burdens I feel it necessary to bare,

Lord, I’m sending these prayers because I know how much you care.

You care about the mother, about to go to court,

To face her former husband, who has fallen short.

His lies will be open for all to see,

Because there’s nowhere to hide for men like he.

There is another mother who feels afraid,

For all of the serious mistakes she’s made.

Sadly standing by for better or worse,

As a husband she trusted turns into a curse.

A single mom who is fighting cancer each day,

She has such a big reason to fight to stay.

Her family surrounds her with support and love,

Just as You are shining on her from above.

There’s a family I know who’s torn apart.

So much sadness in their lives they have hardened their hearts.

They should show love instead of animosity,

Working on being a family in unity.

A daughter who has to take care of her mother,

A mother who misses her daughter,

A son who feels left behind,

And a wife who is so lonely she’s blind.

For a mother who’s spent every night for weeks,

Sleeping by her son’s hospital bed listening to doctors speak.

Something about his brain and surgery and more,

Filling her head, she can’t take anymore!

Give us this day our daily bread,

And please take this stress from our heads.

I pray, O Lord, for tests and surgeries,

As your ways, for me, are always a mystery.

So many trials going on with loved ones,

Lord, I pray you will not leave them on their own.

~Amen~

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Did someone say... wood?!

Here in Northern New York, it gets cold in the winter. Darn cold. Unless you want your heating bill to be $500 a month, a wood burning stove, or pellet stove, comes in handy. Our house has a wood burning stove. Last winter we had wood that was left here by the previous owners because it was our first winter here. We used that up fast. This year I nagged (ahem... I mean, asked nicely) for us to be well prepared. =)

On our army post, Fort Drum, we can get firewood practically for free. A permit to cut up felled trees costs $10 for one week, and you can take up to three loads of wood. Thank goodness for A) the truck, B) the chainsaw, and C) a husband who never shies away from hard labor no matter how tired he is.

After a very long week at work, and 2 weeks solid of being outside and sleeping outside, he came home Thursday ready to get this wood gathering over with. He went out in the woods on post twice by himself, then implored the family to please help him today.

In the brisk 40 degree, rainy weather, we obliged. How can we not?!

We did gather 1 cord of wood total, which if we bought from someone locally would be approximately $100. A cord of wood is equivalent to three truck bed-fulls, or 4 ft high by 4 ft wide by 8 ft tall.

Hopefully this lasts us all winter and we stay nice and toasty warm. Because having to pay that heating bill without the extra luxury of using the wood burning stove is hard imagine.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Louisa's birthday cupcakes

Yesterday was Louisa's friend birthday party. We had 5 teenage girls spending the night. Whew! The giggling and high pitched screaming was.... interesting ;) But really, it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing how blessed your children are with nice, happy friends who enjoy each other's company. (I know, I know, "enjoy each other's company"?! Lame! ;)

I had a hard time coming up with cupcakes for her. I needed something that really wowed her and her friends. We didn't have a theme, since, well, 14-year-old's parties don't generally have themes as far as I know. I could be wrong. Her favorite color is green, but I chose a variety of colors for her decorations. She likes the combination of green, black, pink, and purple.

In the end, I decided on the banana cupcakes she asked for, decorated with large roses in multiple colors. She loved them, I'm pleased to report!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sugarland~ Little Miss

Louisa and I went to her first concert on September 3 at the NY State Fair. I took her to see Sugarland. We LOVE them and it was so fitting that this was our first concert together. We have every song of every CD memorized.

As we know, the Sugarland band and crew dealt with a big loss this summer. Having your stage collapse, killing and injuring your fans, is a performers worst nightmare. Even if... they had nothing to do with it. Even if... it could have been prevented. Even if... the fans hold some liability for taking the risk (?). It's something the band and crew will always have to live with knowing they were a part of.

However, they need to move on and continue their tour. Many more shows, many thousands of fans to perform to.

I have to admit that I was very nervous about the show. Not about a stage collapsing on me, but about the level of performance we'd receive. So close to the tragedy, would Sugarland still perform at top notch levels? I mean, I did pay $60 a ticket to take my daughter to her first show, row 14, center stage. I deserved just as good a show as the people before the incident got.

My fears were silly! Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush haven't risen this high because they are bad businessmen. Right?! They not only put on an amazing show, but they gave me my money's worth, and I rarely say that.

I was also introduced to another young lady who I now can't get enough of. Sara Bareilles is on tour with them, and she's amazing!

At the show we got to be a part of two special events~

Surprise one was that Amnesty International is recording a Bob Dylan tribute CD and Sugarland recorded one of my favorites, Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You, live in Syracuse, for inclusion on the CD. You may hear me screaming ;) I did try to purposely scream during a quiet part. Don't you hate those people?!

Surprise number two: I came across this video tonight. I was hoping someone had taped this, because it was amazing and brought tears to my eyes when it happened. Sugarland has a song called "Little Miss". It's a song about how we know that no matter how tough life gets, we'll "be okay again". Always. This song, like SO many of theirs that have come before, is an inspiration to everything I do in my life right now. The song has also created a whole movement across the country, called the Little Miss Project.

Two local school teachers contacted the Syracuse country radio station for help with this. They handed out 6,000 signs right before the show. Our instructions were to hold them up during Little Miss. The signs had words, lines, from the song. Things like, "You Are Loved", and "Brand New Start". Many signs also said, "Remember Indy".
The band knew nothing about this little surprise, so it was amazing to watch their faces as we held up our signs and sang along. I fought tears the whole time. Enlarge the screen when you watch this so you can see Jennifer's face. It's so awesome to watch her shock as she is trying to sing, perform, yet also read all the signs!



I pray that you all know that
A) You ARE loved.
B) It'll Be Alright Again.

I promise.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chaos Cupcakes

Do you like cupcakes?!

Do you like blogs?!

Do you like alligators with really big teeth that wear pink shimmery tutus?!

I can help you with the first two. The third one, well... you're on your own and you need help.

I'm starting a small business out of my house called Chaos Cupcakes. I have had a few orders, ordered some business cards, and really began experimenting with my baked goods.

Also, I thought a blog would be fun. Blogginess of the cupcake kind. Yum.

~Chaos Cupcakes~
Come take a peek and click that cute little "follow" button. :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

New School Year

The Chaos Kids constantly amaze me. Day in and day out, they find ways to get over obstacles, and they keep right on moving. I get a complaint here and there, but for the most part they deal with issues well.

Starting school up again in the fall is never an easy process. You worry about who will be in your class(es), who to sit with at lunch, what to wear, what clubs to join, what teachers you'll have... Sometimes it all works out well and we glide through the year smoothly. Sometimes. Not.

I've had years in my youth that were peppered with bullies and harassment. A few years in particular really stick out in mind. 6th grade, 8th & 9th grades, and believe it or not... kindergarten. 6th grade had to of, by far, been the worst for me, though. The harassment and bullying was so severe that I had to go for weekly counseling sessions with the school counselor, and the principal had the whole lot of us in his office several times trying to sort it all out. My mom was likely at her wit's end trying to understand the situation as kids who had just recently spent much time at our house as friends began to harass me on a pretty severe level.

Well, like my Chaos Kids, I overcame. I made new friends, found ways to avoid the bullies, and moved on with my life.

I pray the Chaos Kids never have to worry about bullies.
Louisa is a spitfire. I'd like to see a bully try to mess with her. Well, I wouldn't... but if one did they'd get quite an earful. She's witty, sarcastic, passive aggressive, and highly intelligent. She'll twist you up in words you don't understand, and spit you out with sarcasm so dripping that you'll think you just took a shower.

Drew has had a few teensy run-ins on his 2nd day of school. He is a bit worried about "being surrounded by a pack of bullies". Hey, who isn't?! We talk a lot about rational and irrational fears, so he knows the difference. I'm not really sure which one that is, though.

So as we truck through yet another school year, and we try to maintain a non-bully zone around our children, all we can really do is the best for our kids that we can. We can work to prepare them for let downs and disappointments. We can cheer on their every single accomplishment.
Mostly, though, we can pray that everything we're doing is on the one right path that God is leading us, and our kids, on.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Ingenuity


When I was a little girl, I didn't always get what I wanted, right when I wanted it. The result, I learned to get creative. My Cabbage Patch Dolls had homemade clothes, made by me. My Barbie swam in a homemade pool, made by me. When I wanted $25 Keds with neon splatter paint, my mom got me $5 knock-offs and we used puffy paint we had around the house. I used ingenuity, and learned that if I wanted something, I could have it, with some brain juice and leftover supplies lying around the house.

Louisa has always been creative. She's always been interested in making things with whatever medium we have available. Her textiles skills, sewing and crocheting, are really taking off. I'm proud, but best of all she's proud.

I didn't think she needed a new bag for school this year. As anyone who is buying school supplies for multiple children knows, not everyone gets everything they want. Hunter needed a new backpack more than the other CK's this year, and even he got only a $15 bag from Walmart. I don't feel bad when the kids can't have something. Children don't always need everything they want. We've never bought them new school bags every year, and we won't start now.

So, all this mommy-meanness led to Louisa feeling the need to get creative. She asked if we could go to Joann's so that she could buy some fabric with her allowance. Hey... why not? I'm a reasonable mommy.

She picked a really cute green with white polka-dots. It's a tad retro, yet very hip.

Sunday morning we cut and pinned the bag form. The inside liner is a pillow case, inspired by my cousin Sue who made a bag similar to it for my mom. Louisa spent Sunday sewing the basic bag and strap.

Monday she added embellishments. She's been wanting to try out making a ruffle, so she added ruffle to the mid-section and strap. She has learned how to make fabric flowers this summer, so she added two flowers to the area in the middle where the ruffle comes together. I think her favorite accomplishment is the pocket on the inside. That gave her a lot of trouble, but she was glad she did it.
{Inside of the bag viewing troublesome pocket.
She did great and learned some good lessons.}


Yes she's taking orders... $35 each ;)

For people who don't know her, she's just a few weeks shy of her 14th birthday...
What were you doing when you were 13? :)





Tip Junkie handmade projects

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Louisa, the sewing machine, and using up old clothes

Recently Louisa got her very own sewing machine. I didn't even realize she had an interest in sewing, but one day we got some amazing tween/teen craft books from the library and she immediately set to work sewing all sorts of handbags, t-shirt bags, etc. It was great watching her go. I kept loading her up with t-shirts and jeans that I couldn't use anymore.

She has since slowed down with the book crafts. She went to spend a few weeks with her grandparents and they have a sewing machine. She had used one in Home Ec this past school year, but I didn't know how serious her interest was. Apparently, it was big, and serious.

She made herself and her brothers real authentic sock monkeys. They are so cute! She did great.

Now that she's back home she has a sewing machine of her own. She's been busy learning how to sew straight lines (not as easy as it looks!) and create one of a kind pieces. Her first projects were these draw-string t-shirt bags. She used an old shirt of mine for her own bag, and Drew picked out a too small shirt of his for his bag. Hunter kept picking out shirts that were still very wearable, so he finally settled on a Hershey Niagara Falls shirt. It's wearable, but he inherited two from his older siblings, so we could sacrifice one for the sake of a bag and a happy Hunter.

Louisa's next project is a gold and red striped Harry Potter Gryffindor scarf for Hunter. He has a Harry Potter costume robe that he wears all the time, so of course he needs a scarf in the house colors! This will take her a little more time, but she's getting there.

She is also teaching herself how to crochet. She's very excited with a, um... "hat" she's making ;) I'm glad she's having so much fun being creative! We'll see where all this leads.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gymnastics Recital- Take Two: Level 1

Level 1 is typically beginners over the age of 5. Some kids fly through level 1 so fast that it's just a quick stepping stone for them. And other children spend a year or more there. It's tough to make a kid stay in level 1 if they feel they should move up. Typically parents feel a child should move up after a year/season. I've had quite a few parents get upset with me because I don't feel comfortable moving their child up to level 2. In order to move up, a child needs to have a good, solid cartwheel. In my completely unprofessional opinion, a child shouldn't move to Level 2 unless they can do a straight-legged cartwheel. The problem when you move them too soon is that in Level 2 you're no longer working on cartwheels, you're working on handstands and round-offs. So when a child can't even do a proper cartwheel, they are already behind. It's not fair to them, or to the rest of the class. It's hard to tell a parent, after a year or more, that their child still needs to be in level 1.

I have three level 1 classes this year. They can be fun, and they can be a lot of work. The kids are new in gymnastics, typically, and are excited to learn. Some kids are there because their parents make them and they don't actually want to learn. Luckily, I don't have any of those this year.

My first level 1 class had 10 kids when I started the year, with a long waiting list. I had to open a 2nd class as a result. Now there are 4 sweet little girls, two of them are returning students from last year. I had a hard time choosing a song for them because when we first started our recital rehearsals there were 6 girls in the class, and a big age difference between the youngest and oldest. I needed something that fit them all. I settled on "Naturally" by Selena Gomez because I figured everyone would know who she was. Nope. But that's okay because they all like the song.
I also like this song because there are definite tempo changes in the song that the girls can use for key points in the choreography. It makes it easier for them to remember when to do something when it fits the song.



My second level 1 class was a result of a waiting list of the first. I've had so many children in and out of that class all year long. The 4 girls I have now are not the same kids I started with. At one point I was about to shut down the class because all the students missed several weeks in a row. Then suddenly one night these 4 girls showed up, and here we are!
I originally picked a remixed song by Elvis called "Rubberneckin'" because I had a boy in the class. The boy dropped out and the girls did *not* like that song. Going through my iTunes playlist with the girls one night, they got their heart set on none other than "What Is Love" by Haddaway... of Night at the Roxbury fame. Complete with head bob ala Will & Jimmie, the girls are having a lot of fun with this one. None of the kids can "tumble" too well, so we just went for "fun routine" instead of "show off our skills" routine. It works!



My third level 1 class has also morphed into something completely different than it started out to be. I began the year with a class full of eager beginners. There has been a waiting list for this class at this time slot all year. Eventually I was down to three little girls. Two of them were ready to move up to level 2, so I bumped them up. One little girl was left by herself for a few weeks. Unbeknown to me, there was still a waiting list for the class. No one who had dropped the class, or moved up, went to the front desk to take their name off my roster. So I had one little girl, and a waiting list. Finally we got it all taken care of and admitted three new girls. They were so little, ages 4 and 5. The first girl, who was by herself for awhile, left us, and now we have three really cute little princesses whose big sisters are all in the level 2 class that's taught at the same time by another teacher.
First I picked the song "Dancing Crazy" by Miranda Cosgrove. I thought it would be a fun song for the girls, but it ended up being too fast for their limited skills. Another teacher wanted to use that song for her class so I said "have at it!" One thing about picking these songs is that you have to pick something that fits the class. If the class can handle a fast upbeat song, then go for it. If they can't, then maybe find something slower. Which is exactly what I did! I took my little princesses and found them a princess song. I made little princess wands for them to have during their routine, too. They are so excited! Especially because they get to keep their wands after Saturday.
Our song is "Today Was A Fairytale" by Taylor Swift. (And OMGosh this video is *so* cute!!)



Tonight is our dress rehearsal. I'm very anxious to see how things will play out. Some of the classes really know their stuff and I'm not worried in the least. Other classes have kids that were absent on so many days that they don't know the routine. I had one class where the girl was gone for a month and a half, then just surprised me last week. I had changed the whole routine to exclude her, then had to confuse everyone by changing it back to put her back in. It's such a challenge not only for me, but for the kids. We all have to figure out how to maneuver around these distractions.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Gymnastics Recital- Take One: Tumbling Tigers

The time is quickly approaching. Back in April, I thought this week would never come! But here we are, Recital Week! We have dress rehearsal, recital, and then the last day of classes.

For gymnastics recitals in our YMCA, each teacher picked out songs for their own classes based on age level, level of skill the classes are, and what's appropriate for that group. Some of us let our students pick and some of us have had ideas since September. I was a mixture of both. A few songs I'd had my eye on for awhile, and a few songs just popped in my head spontaneously as I was trying to think of what would be good for a class. One song the class picked out all by themselves, and it's a little surprising what they chose.

I'll post my Tumbling Tiger songs today. Tumbling Tigers, at our Y, are 3, 4 & 5 year old pre-schoolers. They don't do a lot for recital and we we have to be on the floor helping them most of the time. We set out mats in an obstacle course, teach them a few basic dance moves that go with the song, and let them do their thing.

My first Tumbling Tiger class I solo-teach. There are only three kids in it right now, after having three move away earlier this year, and one little girl's mama decided she was too young and wouldn't understand the recital. At 3 years old, that's a tough call sometimes. Louisa's first ballet recital was when she was 3 and she really got in to it and understood what she was doing. But I agreed with this mom's decision, her daughter really didn't have the maturity to remember the routine from week to week, and I'm guessing she wouldn't have wanted to be on stage in front of an audience.
So for my first song I chose a little ditty from the Disney Channel show Phineas & Ferb. I was working gymnastics birthday parties one day when a parent brought in their own CD of fun kids music. This song was on the CD and I thought it was perfect for a Tumbling Tiger routine. With only three kids, I have a short routine, and this is a short song to match it.




My second Tumbling Tigers is co-taught with another coach. She's a super sweet high school senior who's been doing gymnastics her whole life. She's taught me a *lot* this year. We have a large class of about 10 kids, so we needed a face paced, long song to get us through. She chose a very upbeat song by Mitchel Musso, of Hannah Montana fame. I choreographed the routine by myself because my co-teacher had to miss a bunch of classes in a row. However, after doing this for years, she has told me this is one of her favorites. Since this is my first year choreographing by myself, I take that compliment and run :)

The song is called Let's Make This Last 4Ever, and seriously, if you have a pre-teen or a smaller kid with an iPod, buy this for them! It's such a great dance song. My Tumbling Tigers can't stop dancing when they hear this. It's so cute!




Come on back tomorrow! I've got more songs to post, and more gymnastics classes to brag.... I mean, talk about.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Buckle down, kid!

Growing up, I had 1000 ideas of what I wanted to do some day when I.... well grew up. My list was long, and well rounded. Teacher, photographer, marine biologist, singer, songwriter, actress (movie and Broadway), veterinarian, comedienne, wedding planner, costume designer, professional basketball player, Peace Corps worker, Playboy Playmate, social worker, psychologist, ghost hunter, psychic, Navy... person, choreographer, editor, dog trainer, painter/artist, journalist, novelist, archeologist, children's minister, astronaut, Princess Leia, Daisy Duke, and/or Madonna. (*Note how "chef", or "baker" is not actually listed in the previous list.)

There isn't exactly a college that caters to all those careers, so my senior year of high school I made the bold decision to NOT GO to college the following year. I can honestly say I was the only one of my friends that didn't go to college. The losers, the drop outs, the wrong-side-of-the-track-better-not-let-mama-catch-you-hanging-out-with-them, everyone, but me, went to a college of some sort. Tech school, art school, university, junior college. If they weren't going in to the service, they hit the books. Me? I decided to work for a year (ha!!) and think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

~Wanna hear God laugh? Tell Him your plans!~
Isn't that how the saying goes? Oh He laughed at me alright! He said, "Girl, you don't need to go to college right now cause I'm gonna make you a MAMA!" And poof, there I was, 18 years old and pregnant. I no longer needed to worry about which of those 50 careers I had picked out I would choose. I had to worry about getting *any* job that would support my new baby girl because I had just been thrown in the middle of single-mom-hood. Forget college, girl! Raise this baby!
15 years ago I was less than two weeks from graduation. Who knew what lay in store for me? I knew I was scared to enter the real world, and looking back I'm glad God gave me that crash course at the school of hard knocks. I wouldn't have made it if He hadn't. I'd have been stuck in my parent's house until I was 30, STILL trying to decide what to do with my life.

I look back at high school and it's just one big mess in my mind. There's no beginning or end, there was no one friend that got me through, there wasn't any sort of particular "social class" that I fit in. I was just there. Invisible. Annoyed. Trapped. Very wrapped up in myself. How could I have ever focused on college when I was that young? These kids I go to school with now, they are 18, 19, 20 years old and so many of them are focused and ready to hit the ground running as soon as they can. It amazes me! I'm still not like that and I'm 33! Not saying I don't have ambitions, I just have quiet humble ones.

Now teaching my children to have loud, strong ambitions, that's a whole 'nother story. I want them out there, singing, dancing, getting noticed. They are going to change the world and make some noise. I want them to shake things up and get people's attention. Whatever it is they want to do, they need to *do* it with as much spunk as they can. Get on stage, wow a crowd, take the punches, learns the lessons, give until it hurts, wear your heart on your sleeve, and love what you are doing.

I have one child who makes these empowering speeches a tad difficult, though. He's more like me than either of us care to admit. Every week he comes to me with another "This is what I *REALLY* want to be when I grow up" story. I want to sit him down and say, "Look, I don't care if you're only in 4th grade. You need to buckle down, kid! Pick something for crying out loud!" Every single week it's a new thing.
"Mom! Guess what? I have FINALLY found what I'm going to be when I grow up! Isn't that great?! I'm going to be a....
professional hockey player
geologist
archeologist
historian
comic book writer
illustrator
artist
astronaut
teacher
video game maker
Pokemon... person
actor
singer
air force... person."
This week, or rather, today, it's video game maker living in Japan. Great. I'll visit you at Christmas.

Not that I have anything against kids having dreams, but I would like for my kids to be traditional college students and not have their minds filled with SO many possibilities that they can't even narrow it down to a handful of, say five. Like me.

I'm in college, for the second time around, with a new degree program since last time, and I *STILL* don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I mean, how can I know? There are so many things to do in life. I would love to bake for a living, but is it feasible? My ultimate dreams are these:
~own a bakery/bookstore. A small local one in some cute little southern Wisconsin town (when we are done with the army).
~Work in a bakery just baking and maybe learning decorating as I go, but mainly concentrating on baking artisan breads and such.
~pursuing my writing dream full-time (already got one foot in the door, it can't hurt to keep trying).
~just giving up on all of it and moving to Tahiti. I'll spend the rest of my days living in a hut on the beach, catching/growing my food, never worrying about money again.

There is a lesson to be learned in all this. The lesson, I think, is to buckle down while you're young. There's no reason a 4th grader can't pick one career goal and work his tail off to achieve it. All this dreaming about 200 different job choices just creates confusion. That confusion can lead you to where I am today. A 33 year old college student who STILL can't just decide on a flippin' career already and be done with it!

**Thanks to high school friend Amanda for reminding me of my once HS ambition to get a boob job and be a Playmate.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Last day of the semester ~or~ (Sniff, sniff) Good-bye to cooking class

For a culinary program, my school sure doesn't have a lot of "cooking" classes. In two semesters, I've taken them all. Kind of. There's one more, but I don't need to take it because I took the equivalent this semester, from what I understand. I do still need to take an internship somewhere. I'd love to do my internship at a bakery. There aren't many around these parts, so hopefully I'll get in somewhere. My ultimate goal is to just bake. I don't care where, or how, or with who. I don't need my own business, I don't need glory or to be important. I don't need to be the best decorator on the block. I just. Want. To. Bake.

Today was the last day of classes, and then finals are next week. I'm a little on the sad side. I'd like to have more cooking classes, as I don't feel I'm prepared for the culinary world yet. But, it is what it is, and I'm just beyond blessed to get this opportunity in the first place. I know many places around these parts will hire graduates of the culinary program, so I don't see a problem with finding a job in a restaurant.

So, here's to the end of my first year in school, and on to what lays ahead of me!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

If he doesn't post it on Facebook, does my husband still love me?

It's a valid question in today's social network based society. If my husband doesn't post it on Facebook, does he still love me?

I have many couple-friends on FB. Some of them are cute and mushy, some of them are a leetle too over-the-top, and some (like Husband and I) don't communicate at all. Sure when we both had our laptops we thought it was fun to play Scrabble together on FB instead of getting out the board. We'd sit and watch a movie and play Scrabble, it was nice. But we don't use Facebook to communicate. Like, ever. I think maybe I say "Happy Birthday" on his birthday, but he doesn't do it back to me. Do I need him to? Is this something I really spend all day thinking about?

No.

Sometimes I joke with him when he gives me a compliment, telling him to post it so *everyone* can see it! In reality, I don't need him to. His compliments mean a lot to me, in private. I don't need my parents, and daughter, and nephew, and.... you get the idea, seeing that my husband thinks I'm bootylicious or any sort of strange thing I've seen husbands post.

Another oddity in the social network world: hacking in to eachother's accounts to write said compliments. Really?? You can't take that compliment and keep it in your heart? You have to now log on to your husband's account, write the compliment as if he were saying it on Facebook for the first time, and then let your friends ooh and ahh over it? Interesting.

You can find out a lot about a person by how they behave online.

I think that I can tell how much my husband loves me by the large amount of small things he does for me. On a daily basis. How he takes time in his busy morning to unload the dishwasher quick. How he stops to pick up milk on his way home from an exhausting day, even when I don't ask. How he takes the kids out to play so I can get homework done, even without me saying anything. How he gets done with work a few minutes early so that I can go someplace without taking the kids. Little, every day things, that for some would go unnoticed. I notice it all. I ooh and ahh over it all. And I keep it all to myself. He makes little sacrifices for the family all the time. He goes without, when others wouldn't. He takes his lunch to work instead of eating out with *all* the rest of the guys. He doesn't need alone time, or "me" time. He just likes to be at home with us. He encourages me to be ME, and no one else. He doesn't limit or restrict me in any way. I'm my own person, and he likes that.

We may be at total opposite ends of the astrological spectrum (big warning sign next to Taurus and Aquarius say "Do Not Get Married!" ) but we are a good team. And even without an official statement on Facebook, I think he loves me :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

~Gilbert Buege~ Dec. 29, 1921- April 16, 2011

Finally getting a chance to sit down and write this. It's been a long day of getting ready for my departure. Tomorrow I get on a plane, by myself, to go close one of the biggest chapters of my life.

But how do you close a chapter that has been such an enormous part of your existence? How do you say good-bye to the last living person that represented four of the most amazing people you knew?

Not making sense? It does to me.

For several months now we've been saying, "Get ready, Grandpa won't be with us much longer". I have put everyone I know on alert and on emergency prayer duty. Last night the call came. I will be frankly honest here, I did feel relieved. Relief alongside sadness is not unusual when dealing with the death of an 89-year-old grandparent who's been sitting in an assisted living unit for 4+ years. He has lived a full, long life. I pray, with my entire heart and soul, that my grandfather finally has peace. It's been a very long time coming. I pray God found goodness in his soul, and that my grandfather was welcomed with open arms in to His kingdom. But mostly, I pray my mom can finally find peace.

Now I'm off to say good-bye to the last of the four souls that not only grandparented me, but were *essential* in raising me. If not for them, I would not be the person I am today.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me 4 angels. Only You know how much I need them watching over me.

Good-bye my grumpy Grandpa Gil.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pretty spring cake

Today in baking class, we had a very welcome visitor. The local Wilton class instructor led us on different flower techniques using both butter cream and royal icing. I made much more than what shows in the picture, but this is how I decided to start my cake. I am just experimenting, as I'm still learning.

We finally hit almost 75 degrees here in Northern New York! It's a beautiful day, and I am stuck in school and work all day. Hopefully tomorrow, my day off, I can enjoy some nice weather.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sticky pursy mess

So my life all seems to come down to a syrup coating inside my purse. Oh yes, covering. everything. And the fortune only gets better as it was completely my fault. I hate that. It's ok when the kids do it because then I can just go "oh my goodness, what did you guys do to my purse?!!" But no, I did it. A purse full of syrup is how I feel sometimes. Sticky, icky, and no conceivable way to clean it up!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Roses and a ceremony


To all the people who have been decorating cakes for years, and who assume I should already know how to do this stuff.... turn away. To everyone else... read on :)
In baking class we are learning how to bake and decorate cakes. Yes, easy peasy. Everyone should know how to bake a cake, right? Open a box, mix in some oil and water and eggs, and wallah! You have a cake! Not the baking class way, though. We have specific cakes we have to learn to make, from a book made by real bakers in the industry. It's not just a package cake, or a quick and simple yellow cake. It's a classic genoise, and a complicated (but very rich!) devil's food, and the proper way to make an angel food, sponge, and chiffon cake. There are mixing techniques to learn, and weighing the batter to get the exact amount in your pan. Get the idea? I do enjoy baking cakes from scratch. It's more economical, and they taste better. The part I'm *not* good at, is decorating. My baking teacher, although she bakes and sells pastries for a living, isn't the best at the decorating part either. She doesn't add flowers to her cakes, or dress them up with complicated piping. And even though she doesn't do that, her cakes sell like... well... hotcakes.
Yesterday we learned a few basic flower techniques, along with leaves, and basket weave. I tried my hand at a couple of the flowers while decorating the thousand cupcakes we made. Some of them didn't turn out quite like flowers, but they were colorful! The only flower I seemed to "get" was the rose. It wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be. I obviously need more practice because making four roses didn't make me an expert, but they were fairly basic in structure. (Next week the local Wilton class lady is coming in and we'll get more practice.)
We sell our goods in the cafeteria of the school, so as soon as I made my four rose cupcakes, I ran over and bought them. Yes. Really. We're not allowed to just "take" food out of the instructional kitchen, but we *can* buy our baked goods from the cafeteria like any other student.
Louisa was being inducted in to the National Junior Honor Society last night, so I thought this would be a nice after ceremony treat. Until, on the way home, one container tipped upside down in the car, and then at home Hunter knocked the other container out of the fridge! The cupcakes were a little worse for wear by the time we finally ate them. But still delicious! Especially with my chocolate butter cream (another thing I've found I'm good at making!)

The induction ceremony last night was a proud moment for me. Not having excelled in school, I love watching the kids take the opposite path of me and really enjoy school. They enjoy learning, they enjoy doing well, and they (the older two mostly... for now) are reaping the rewards of hard work done well. This is another one of those moments.
As Louisa was called to receive her award and sign her name in the official NJHS register, I asked Drew to go up to the stage and take pictures for me. Hunter felt he needed to go up there as well. I've found, through many similar episodes, that if I just let Hunter walk up there, he'll come back without incident. He might wave or say "hi", but there won't be too much distraction. If I chase him down and bring him back to sit, then there will be a ruckus. So usually I just let him do his thing, knowing he'll come back. Sure enough, he stood by the stage waving and saying "Hi, Louisha" the whole time she was doing her thing. Her teacher (and NJHS adviser) whispers "Say hi to your brother". So Louisa waved hello, and the audience giggled. Oh, leave it to the Chaos Kids to give people entertainment during any event!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A snowy crocus, and my new love

So it's only a tiny bit of snow. Right? I mean, it's definitely snowed much worse here. But when I get this teeny bit of Spring in my yard, it hurts my heart to see it get snowed on!


Don't worry pretty little crocus. I promise it's Spring. Just hang on a little longer!

On a much warmer, and yummier, and gooier note... I introduce you to my new obsession.

**The Brookie**

That's right, kids, brownie on bottom, chocolate chip cookie on top. I saw a picture of a brookie on a blog one day and thought, "I can do that!" So I did!
I used the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (don't knock it! It's a good one!), and the Fudgy Brownies I recipe from Allrecipes.com (and please, please, I beg of you, no matter what a brownie recipe says *do NOT* mix with a mixer. mix by *hand* only! you'll be glad you did!)
The brownie recipe was made as is, according to directions, with just a pinch more cocoa. I spread it in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan and baked it at 375 (F) for about 20 minutes. While that was baking I mixed together the chocolate chip cookie dough, as is, no alterations to the recipe. When the brownies are done baking, I let them cool enough to spread the cookie dough on top. I baked the whole thing in a 375 oven for 20-24 more minutes (I don't remember!) However, after the 20 minute mark, keep an eye on them. They over brown quickly.

I think this is a fun treat that can be totally customizable. Use boxed brownies and refrigerated cookie dough for a quicker version, use different kinds of cookie dough (as long as it's a similar consistency like peanut butter cookies), sandwich something between the layers such as nuts, coconut (ooh... toasted coconut!), little candy bars (M&Ms)... be creative. I'll have to play around a little bit to find other fun ways to make this.

I have to add how scrumptious this was. If you're a huge cookie AND brownie fan like we are here in the Chaos house, this will be a dream treat to bake.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The. Groundhog. Lied.

Plain and simple, he lied. I will never trust Phil again, I'm afraid. I'm sorry, Phil, but you're a horrible weather predictor.It may be difficult to see in this picture, but behind Hunter there are big, fat, fluffy snowflakes falling. March 31, 2011. Eleven days after the Spring Equinox, and more than three weeks after Phil said spring would begin. Granted I do have teeny tiny crocuses peeping up, a sure sign that spring has to... just *Has To* be around the corner. However, two days this week so far we've woken up to snow. And all the rest have been a thick layer of frost. I'm putting my foot down right here! April, in case no one has noticed, is tomorrow. The official "month" of spring! Easter, Passover, Spring!!!

I'm off to think springy thoughts and work on the Mario room. After all, it won't paint itself. Even when it's snowing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mario Theme Room


I look at theme rooms in magazines and online and I think, "I want one". I got tired of "wanting" one, and decided to Make one! The Mario theme room has become more than I thought it would be. Hunter has asked for a Mario room for a year now, ever since we moved in to this house. His room had pink flower wall paper, and he was a good sport for putting up with it. Taking down wall paper in this house isn't easy because it's a 100 year old house and the walls are made of plaster. Even if you use a steamer, wall paper doesn't come down nicely and often times the plaster crumbles. It's best to take down the plaster walls and put up dry wall. At least, in Husband's mind it is. He has dry walled the living room, dining room, and now Hunter's room. He has plans to do Drew's room some day as well. In my opinion, there's nothing like having the blank canvas of dry wall to slap fresh paint on.

{Picture of Hunter helping tear down the walls. He got to make the first hole with a hammer.}

The Mario room didn't take a lot of planning. We took Hunter to Lowe's to pick out paint, and Husband already had an idea of what he wanted to do. Conveying it to Hunter (and Mom) was a little difficult, but after we saw his vision (versus Hunter's vision of a fiery Mario world complete with Bowser castle) we picked out shades of blue, green, and brown to bring this Mario world to life.
Back at home, Husband slathered a layer of primer on his dry wall, and we were ready to go.Husband taped the different levels of the ground. The very bottom is brown, the little middle area is green, then the big top area is blue.
Husband did most of the painting. I am better at edging because I can paint a straight line easily enough. I don't like using tape on edges since I can free hand it. I took advantage of the Picnik photo editing website to map out how I want each wall to look. These are all rough drafts (mostly because Husband came home for lunch and saw these and said "oh, and don't forget to add this, and how about we change this to that!"). The window wall is the side of the room where Hunter's big slide bed is. I would like to do a green pipe on both sides with a Piranha Plant coming out. Maybe one with mouth open and one with mouth closed. I think that will give a nice balanced look when you first enter the room.

To the left of the bed (when facing it) is the wall with his closet. The slide comes down this side, so I don't want to put too much detail in that corner. I will keep the pictures high, such as some clouds with maybe a flying Koopa (turtle), and a few Goombas (mushroom guys) down low. We will also hang a pegboard on this wall. I made a pegboard for Louisa's room last summer and she uses it a lot. Husband thinks he can cut the pegboard in to a cloud shape. That would blend in well if he can. (Note, clouds and vine are photoshopped, the wall is actually blank right now.)

The next wall has Hunter's door. I don't think I'll paint anything on either door, but we'll see. Husband thought maybe vines going around each of the door and window trims would look nice. I also have to keep in mind that A) we won't be in this house forever, and B) Hunter won't want a Mario theme forever.
So here we have a wall that I will put some Blocks and Coins on. I will also put two Koopas on the bottom, not a Goomba and a Koopa since, as Husband pointed out, Koopas travel in pairs. He also suggested I put the coins in an arch. Notice above the door, Hunter asked us to make sure we added a "score" and "lives" somewhere in the room.

The last wall I didn't add any pictures to so you can see how nicely it's painted. Hunter wanted what he called "stairs". We need to add black lines on the foremost level of the "stairs" so you can tell it's in the foreground. I think I will do Mario on this wall, jumping from the ground to the upper level. I promised Hunter he could paint a Yoshi Egg on one of the two platforms.
Again, Husband did all the planning and taping to make these lines and levels possible. I was so impressed when I'd seen the final result. I had my doubts, to be honest. I will never doubt his painting skills again! He's done me proud. Hunter is one lucky little boy, and I hope this is a room that will give him years of fun and imaginative playtime.

I will update as I begin my contributions to Hunter's Mario theme room.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's Parent/Teacher Conference Time!

I believe that one of the most significant things a teacher can do in a P/T conference is relate a story to the parent in which the parent gets the sense the teacher *really* knows the child. For example, Hunter's teacher told me how they recently got a new student in class and Hunter (being the ultra sociable Hunter that he is) was upset and crying because he wanted the new student to be placed in *his* group. The teacher told Hunter that she was placing the boy in another group, but Hunter would have plenty of opportunity to play with his new friend throughout the day. She said that she loves how Hunter wears his heart on his sleeve, and really works his hardest to make sure the other kids in the class feel like a welcome part of the group. That sums up Hunter. He loves to be in school, around friends working toward a similar goal. That's because I worked on social skills more with Hunter when he was a toddler and a preschooler. The many advantages of playgroup, Kindermusik, and sports (like gymnastics and soccer).

Drew's teacher absolutely adores him. I don't think I've ever seen a teacher love a child this much before. And not to brag.... well yes, I'll brag ;) She says he's hands down *the* smartest child she has ever taught. (And she's no spring chicken!) I'm, well, flattered. I mean, I did teach him everything he knows! Ok, not everything, but a lot! However, Drew is just a natural sponge. Not the type of cheap generic sponge that lasts maybe a day and then falls apart. The type of strong, expensive sponge that just keeps working and working. He does not stop soaking up, and remembering, information. My brain is so tired and full that when I learn new things, old unimportant (or at least my subconscious thinks it's unimportant at the time, but I usually end up needing it later on) information gets shoved out the back door.

I am not shy about my love for the boys' school. We've been through a lot in our years of schooling the children. It's about time we were able to just relax and leave teaching up to true professionals.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A little gymnastics, and a whole lotta Indian cuisine

I wish I could write about all the Chaos that has happened over the last week. I am choosing not to write about work related issues, because I work with children and I don't want any information that could affect them online. But I will say that gymnastics recital time is approaching again, and I'm getting freaked out! Last year I didn't choreograph any of my routines, a cute little teenaged cheerleader did it for me. But this year, I'm on my own! Yikes! I just relinquished 4 classes, so I will have 7 classes to prepare routines for as well as one class to assist with.
So far the songs I've picked for routines are:
~Dynamite
~Firework
~Dancing Crazy
~Ain't Got Rhythm (Phineas and Ferb show)
~Remix of Love Story
~Rubberneckin' (Elvis remix)

I need to come up with one more song for an all-little-little-girl class. They are 4, 5, and 6 and *so* cute! But I had to wait until my roster was final, and I knew there would be no new additions. That class has given me a few gray hairs lately, part of my ongoing Chaos. Now we're settled with my 4 little cutie pies and I need to pick a nice song for them. I'm thinking something princess-y/tinker bell-y.

School has also been a source of Chaos lately. Last week Friday, the 11th, in cooking class we began learning about Indian cuisine. I'm not a fan, sorry to say. My body, and all it's issues, cannot tolerate "hot" or "spicy" cuisine in any amount. I took a tiny bite of some lamb with curry last week, and my body went in to overload mode and I felt ill all night, in to the next day (while working!). Wasn't going to make that mistake again this week. I had to be part of the team that makes samosas last week, a pocket of dough made with turmeric and filled with veggies (and possibly lamb), then fried. The veggies are infused with an intense blend of Indian seasonings called garam masala (spices vary in different parts of India, but can include black pepper, different types of cumin, mace, corriander, cardamon, etc). The pockets (also called turnover) *have* to be a specific shape in order to be "authentic", according to my teacher. I wished I had my Indian friend's opinion on this, but she is on Facebook and I am not allowing myself to access Facebook right now so I'll have to wait to ask her! (Unless she reads this... Anj?!) As the teacher was staring over our shoulders (the entire time) making sure we got his samosas exactly right, I wanted to turn around and stick a samosa in his nose! I was praying I wouldn't be picked for this job on the 18th, when we actually prepared food to serve to the public!

Fast forward to the 18th, and I did not, in fact, have to make samosas! Yay! I assisted in making the Lamb in Coconut Curry sauce (whew, hot!) and I made rice pilaf by myself. Funny thing about the rice, of ALL the food in the kitchen that day... and there was a *lot*... everyone went ga-ga over the rice! haha! Rice pilaf, people! But hey, folks love their starches, and they really love their rice, I guess. I had a much more relaxed day this past Friday. I had to serve the lamb in the buffet line, trying to remember everything that went in to it so I could tell the costumers what they were getting. It is fun serving the dish you personally made, and watching them ooh and ahh over it. I definitely think I could get used to that!

Today, Sunday, is a day off for me and I'm taking it easy all day. Not going anywhere, and not doing much more than basic chores. Just hanging with the fam, and enjoying the first (cold) day of spring! I have also stopped working Fridays, so that opens up time in my schedule. I prayed a lot over the last two months for some extra time with the kids because I work when they are home, and I am home when they are in school. I'm so happy to have an answer to my prayer, and to have very able people to take over my Friday evening classes

**Side note about taking time off Facebook. I have received emails, phone calls, texts, and most notably a *hand written letter* giving me much support in taking time off. I am grateful for everyone supporting me. I don't actually miss Facebook all that much. Not saying I will never go back, but I do see the advantages in taking a break now and then. Although I haven't gotten even halfway through my ambitious list, I am enjoying my computer-free time.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A story, a muffin, and a prayer

I am so blessed. There, I said it. I feel blessed, and I *am* blessed.

I think today is as good a day as any to reflect on my past year, and look forward to the coming year. I've recently had a hard time at both school and work. Nothing big, but big enough to rattle and unnerve me. I have to pause and pray that God will settle my soul after my shake ups. And not only do I pray, but my friends pray for me. I can feel a prayer from half a country away, and that in itself amazes me. As I'm in class, having a hard day, I can text a friend and she will pray with and for me. I almost instantly feel a relief. The girls in my baking class are sweet and supportive to me, always. That is like having my friend here with me, and not states away. So yes, I am blessed.

Today I felt God's love strongly as I went to Drew's 4th grade class to (finally) read my published story to the kids. His teacher and I have been trying to coordinate this since December! I'm glad she's patient with me (and my son!)

I entered Drew's room to a class full of eager faces all sitting on "the carpet" in front of "the chair". Everyone was excited to hear what I had to say. I felt calm for the most part. I had one shot to get my message across to this class and I wanted to take full advantage of it. As shy as I am, I *can* speak publicly... quite well... when I need to. Since my story is about saying good-bye to a deploying daddy, I took the time to acknowledge everyone whose parents might be gone right now. Some children's dads just came home, some are gone, and some are leaving next month. I hope this story touched those children especially, as it's for them.

They all enjoyed hearing my story, and learning how and why I wrote it. I brought some items that had inspired me to write the story, and I think they liked that also. To me, as a writer, it's interesting to see how and why authors write what they write. I know there are budding writers in this class, because the teacher has told me so.

The coup de grĂ¢ce of the day was the treat I had prepared especially for the students. Drew has been asking me to bring a homemade treat in to class, so I figured today was as good a day as any. I am hesitant to bring anything in to class because there is a child with egg and peanut/tree nut allergies. I know her, and I know what she can and can't have, but I hate leaving her out of things. Drew asked me to make muffins, so I chose to make blueberry muffins. However, I tinkered with my recipe and ended up making blueberry banana muffins with blueberry cream cheese drizzle on top. Let's just say... *everyone* loved them! Well, except for my food allergy friend, she loved the rice crispie treat I brought for her. It happened to be her birthday, so she enjoyed sharing an eggless cupcake with me. I *am* currently researching eggless baked goods, as well as some other food allergen free goodies, so I'm glad she shared her treat with me. I told her as much, and she was proud of herself.

As I left the class, I felt such a swelling in my heart. I'm proud of my middle man and how
far he has come in his schooling. We've had such a long road with him, and he's finally comfortable and secure in a classroom of kids who like him, and a teacher who adores him. A teacher, who, by the way, told the principal of the school that Drew is hands down light years smarter than any other child she's ever met. Yep.

I will share my muffin recipe... just because I love you all so much. But please, don't tell anyone because it's my own family secret. Deal?

Blueberry Banana Muffin with Blueberry Cream Cheese Drizzle

Ingredients for muffin:
2 cups Heart Healthy Bisquick (no, it's not cheating!)
3/4 cup sugar (but please feel free to use less, or experiment because they are sweet!)
1 cup Light N Fit Vanilla Yogurt (you don't have to use name brands, I'm just showing the name brands I used)
2 eggs

1 very ripe banana, smashed
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Directions:
The "Muffin Method" of mixing is to mix dry ingredients together and wet ingredients together, then combine. So if you want to make up your own muffin, this is key to remember. In this recipe you combine the Bisquick and sugar together in one bowl, and the eggs and yogurt in another. Once you have each mixture combined separately, you mix them together. You do not want to over beat muffins. That is a common mistake. You can mix by hand to avoid over mixing, or just watch your mixer so that you mix only until moist. Mix in the smashed bananas until just combined, then fold in the blueberries.
This makes 12 muffins, so prepare a muffin pan with 12 liners that are sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon muffin batter in to the pan, and bake at 375 (F) for 20 minutes. Let cool before drizzling with topping.

Ingredients for topping:
1/2 Package Philadelphia Neufchatel Cheese (or cream cheese)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (play with amount to get consistency you want)
1/2 cup pureed blueberries

Directions:
To puree the blueberries, I thawed them, then stuck them in the blender until smooth.
I mixed all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy, and then piped the topping on to the cooled muffins. You can use the topping any way you want, spread it on, make cute little stars or decorations... whatever. When you make these, they'll be your muffins!

Please, enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

What? No Facebook?

I know, it's hard to believe. But yes, I have given up Facebook for my Lenten Sacrifice. How will I survive?!!! I don't know. I do have a list of things I'd like to accomplish in the next 40 days with my free time, though. The little free time I have! Here's my list:

  • End World Hunger
  • Begin World Peace
  • Finish all craft projects (and start a few new ones)
  • Catch up on homework (yikes! just a leeetle bit behind)
  • Organize bedroom (cause... uh... it's officially been a year since we moved in to this house and Husband is getting a little antsy that his bedroom is the *only* room not unpacked)
  • Work on all writing projects and polish off at least one for submission
  • Spend as much time with the CK's as I can
  • Create new recipe that's MINE all MINE!
  • Perfect homemade bread
  • Spend more time with Husband
  • Work on obedience training with doggy
  • Work on Hunter's readin' and writin'
  • Get a little further down in my "to be read" pile
I think that's pretty ambitious for 40 days. However, I'm in the "bring it on" mood lately. I'm tired of winter, ready for spring, and feel like tackling whatever comes my way. A perfect time to give the all-consuming Facebook a little rest and get moving with my life!

Louisa has chosen to give up texting, and Drew is giving up junk food. Pray for us as we make our humble sacrifices. Very humble considering the sacrifice Christ made for us!

(**Note to Facepeeps, if you comment on Facebook, I won't be able to see it. Just a little hint!)