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Month: July 2009

Back to Back Bashes

Back to Back Bashes

I mentioned last week that Jacob and I share back to back birthdays. And we celebrated our birthdays with some fun times.

We all went to Los Cucos for my birthday to enjoy some Mexican fare.

They did NOT succeed in putting whipped cream on my nose (to the great disappointment of my children).

Just a note of warning … you may not want to eat near our family. These children start out looking all sweet, like this…

And in the flash of the camera, can immediately look like this:

I’m just sayin.

The next night, Jacob took 3 friends to Incredible Pizza

where Jacob enjoyed the spaghetti.

and then had some Incredible Fun.

Seriously Incredible Fun.

That lasted until 9:00 pm.

When they closed.

And Jacob said it was a super great party.

“The best one ever!”

And that’s, well … Incredible.

The Three P’s

The Three P’s

1. Pedicure yesterday….it was long overdue and highly anticipated. I even had a gift certificate which made it that much better.

2. People magazine…which I greatly enjoyed while having that pedicure.

3. Peppermint Patties…inside of brownies!!!! CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE? The happiness, the joy, the pleasure?!?

So I’m having my pedicure, reading my People, when I come across this recipe in an advertisement for a Martha Stewart cookbook. I’m not planning on buying the cookbook, but I cannot wait to make these Peppermint Brownies. And I had to share the recipe with you…because they looked that good.

Mint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

Mint Filled Brownie CupcakesMint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes
From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
Makes 12

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
12 small (1 ½-inch) chocolate-covered peppermint patties, such as York Peppermint Patties

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. Place chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally just until melted, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Remove bowl from heat. Whisk in sugar and salt until mixture is smooth; whisk in eggs to combine. Gently whisk in flour and cocoa until just smooth (do not overmix.)
3. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into each lined cup. Place one peppermint patty on top, gently pressing into batter. Top with 2 tablespoons batter, covering patty completely. Bake, rotating tin halfway through, until a cake tester inserted halfway in centers (above mint patty) comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes. Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Mint Frosting
From Joy of
Makes enough to spread a thin layer on 12 cupcakes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract or 1-2 tablespoons creme de menthe
green food coloring (optional)

1. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring if you want the frosting green. If the frosting is too thick, add a little extra cream. (The frosting should be just thin enough to spread.) Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownies.

Chocolate Glaze
From Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
Makes 1 ¼ cups
(I halved this recipe)

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1. Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
2. Using a flexible spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream until totally combined; begin near the center of the bowl and gradually work your way toward the edge, pulling in as much chocolate as possible, until the mixture is smooth and glossy. (If any chocolate pieces remain, strain mixture through a fine sieve and discard solids.) If not using immediately, glaze can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container. Reheat gently before using.

NOTE: The magazine did not show the brownies with this mint topping or chocolate glaze. I found it on another website. I might make some plain and some with the topping. I will then do a side by side taste test and will hopefully decide they are both delicious!!!

No “buts” about it…

No “buts” about it…

I have spent a lot of time studying communication and it won’t be much longer until a new fall semester of teaching communication skills will begin again for me. I’ve read a lot of textbooks that taught a lot of communication principles and theories. But there is one thing that a professor in graduate school taught me that I have never, ever forgotten.

I think it’s kind of a gem, if you will, in the communication world.

She said this….”anytime you use the word BUT in a sentence, you negate what came before it.”

For example…if you say to your husband …”I love your suit but you might want to change the tie”, your husband doesn’t hear, or focus on, “I love your outfit”… only “change the tie”.

If you say to your child…”you did a good job cleaning your room but you forgot to hang up your jeans”…. they don’t hear the “good job” part…they hear (or focus on) what they forgot.

The mind subconsciously stops when it hears the word “but”.

It just does.

Now you can use the word “and” in a sentence and say pretty much the same thing with a different result. You can say…”I love your outfit…and a different tie might make it work even better.” Or, “you did a good job cleaning your room and don’t forget to hang up your jeans”. And guess what? The receiver will actually hear the beginning of your sentence. They’ll feel better about what you are saying.

Is that cool or what?!?

Try it. Try using and instead of but or just drop that pesky three letter “but”.

Everyone who listens to you will feel better about your message.

Which brings me to this…

How many times do we say “but” to God.

For example…”I know you want me to do this BUT…”

Or…”I’ll do this BUT could you…”

Here’s the deal…we are created in His image…so if we don’t register anything after the word “but”, maybe He doesn’t either. Now I know He’s God and all knowing and all that, but he could probably do without the buts.

No “but what about this…” or “but why not that” just maybe “I accept this AND…”

Try it out today!

Let me know how it works for ya.

If that doesn’t make you want to come home

If that doesn’t make you want to come home

When the kids were little I taught them to cheer when Bill came home from work. We really were glad he was back and I wanted him to look forward to coming home. They didn’t really need much coaxing to cheer…especially Jacob and Savannah. It just comes naturally to them.

In fact, most days I have to tell Jacob to stop cheering.

Yesterday Savannah took the whole “welcome home” thing up another level. She made Bill a “Welcome Back Home From Work” banner and hung it on the back of the Suburban so he’d see it as he drove up.

He wasn’t coming home from a trip or anything … just another day at the office.

She was so excited about it that she stood at the end of the driveway, probably getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, just so she could see him turn onto our street. There was no special occasion other than she wanted to make a sign and she loves her Daddy. He noticed it right away.

He thought it was pretty cool.

And Savannah enjoyed it so much she asked if she could do it again tomorrow.

Maybe we’ll even add balloons.

I have lots of pictures of elephants…

I have lots of pictures of elephants…

Bill asked me last week what I wanted to do for my birthday and I told him I wanted to go to the circus. He asked me again because he thought he misunderstood me. But I really did want to go to the circus.

I’ve been two other times in my life. Once with my dad and once with the girls about a week before Jacob was born. Savannah was only two at the time and didn’t remember going. So yesterday afternoon Jacob, Savannah and I headed to the big top to see the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus.

I think it’s written somewhere that you are supposed to have cotton candy when you watch the circus.

We enjoyed the motorcycles, elephants and trapeze acts … and yes, the $12 cotton candy.

It came inside the souvenir hat Jacob is wearing so I’m trying to feel good about spending that much on spun sugar.

And I would have more pictures of the circus, but we went to the pre-show elephant exhibit and Savannah wanted to take pictures so I let her use my small digital camera. I had no idea … until we got into the show and the camera flashed **low battery** that she had taken tons of pictures of the elephants. I actually took this one and it is the only elephant picture I took.

Savannah however got the elephants from all angles:

We really enjoyed watching when they poured out a tray of apples for the elephants to eat.

Except the kids were embarrassed when I said … “Look, he’s eating with his nose!” They rolled their eyes and said “that’s a TRUNK mom”.

I stand corrected.

Back to Back Birthdays

Back to Back Birthdays

Six years ago today, a doctor announced…”IT’S A BOY!” and our lives have never been the same.

Your dad and I had a son and your sisters had a little brother.

And all of us are crazy about you.

You are the icing on the cake of our family.

You are the exclamation point at the end of our sentence.

You are the answer to our prayers and a dream come true.

Our birthdays may sit side by side on the calendar, but Jacob, you sit right on top of my heart.

And for as long as I live I will never get over the day they said “it’s a boy!”

Happy 6th Birthday Jacob!

I love you!


JULY 23, 2009

In recognition of this special day today,

I have taken the opportunity to guest blog, (ok, I really hijacked it), and wish my lovely wife a truly

Happy Birthday!

Not everyone knew her when, so I thought we would all appreciate a few of the images of Darla’s early days….

Fashion queen she was…..

Domestic maven….

Girl of my dreams…

A true gift from God, she blesses my life daily

Happy Birthday from us all!

I love you,

The long and short of it

The long and short of it

Several years ago Savannah got a doll for Christmas which was also named Savannah. The name was right there on the box. It was part of Target’s line of knock off American Doll girls. The doll immediately became “Savannahdoll” to Savannah, and she has always pronounced it as all one word.

A few years ago, Savannahdoll had an unfortunate hair experience when Savannah (the girl) sprayed, what she thought was water, into her hair. Turns out it was actually cleaning spray for a dry erase board. I don’t know what chemical was in it, but it did a number on the doll’s hair. It was like a perm gone bad…very, very bad.

It became a ratty mess the likes of which Johnson’s “no more tears” detangler could have ever done anything about …. and trust me, as a child I had lots of experience (most of it bad) with the Johnson’s detangler.

Savannahdoll’s hair was a serious mess. And every time we tried to comb it out, it only seemed to get worse.

Although we loved Savannahdoll, it seemed like it might be time for her to retire from the doll line up on Savannah’s bed.

Until last night.

Savannah (the girl) got a mischeivious look in her eyes and said…”can I cut her hair, can I? can I?!?!

The fact that she even had a doll beauty shop chair that had never been used only made the decision that much easier for me.

So this morning, Savannah’s Salon opened for business.

I was almost a little jealous because I kind of thought it’d be really fun to cut that hair too.

I even got a little nervous…I mean, what if Savannahdoll didn’t look good with the new do? But there was no turning back, Savannah was ready.

She worked long and hard, like any good stylist.

Clearly enjoying her work.

And then it came time for the big reveal…

It was Extreme Makeover, Doll Edition.

And I think Savannahdoll and Savannah (the girl) have both turned out pretty darn cute.

Tonight she asked me if she could get her hair cut to match Savannahdoll. I’m going to have to think about that one a little longer.

I’ll let ya know.

Take me out to the ball game…

Take me out to the ball game…

(all together now)

Take me out with the crowd (please dad!).
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks (or at least a hot dog)…

We don’t care if we ever go back!

Cause it’s root, root, root for the home team … (and try to catch a ball too!) Really, really try…. If they don’t win it’s a shame (they did, 11-6!)!
For it’s one … (dad) TWO! (friends) THREE STRIKES, YOU’RE OUT!

At the old ball game!!!!
Let’s all do the blog hop – Oreo Balls!

Let’s all do the blog hop – Oreo Balls!

I mentioned yesterday that Jacob did some housecleaning last week. He is a great helper and loves to dust. This time he wanted to use one of my “power tools” so I let him vacuum the girls rooms before they came home.

I also mentioned we went to the Children’s Museum where they had this pretend Italian style brick pizza oven so of course I wanted him to try that out!

We stopped outside the museum for dessert …cause nothing really ends a big day of fun like some ninja turtle ice cream bars, right?!? (Oh, and the funniest thing…the ice cream truck was playing Christmas music. I thought it was hilarious. I think they were trying to make us believe that our ice cream wasn’t going to melt almost immediately if they were playing songs that included thoughts of frosty and snow and such.)

And speaking of dessert…I’m doing something a little different today. I’m participating in something called the MckLinky Blog Hop. I’m going to post a favorite recipe of mine. Below you will see a list of other blogs that have their favorite recipes posted today as well. Check them out if you like … I’ve already seen several I want to try!

So in honor of all the help Jacob gave me last week I am posting one of his favorites. He can help me make these and LOVES to eat them. And people…it’s July and we all know it’s really too hot to turn on the oven … and it just so happens these are “no bake”. Yipee!

Oh, and if you are somehow feeling all “Christmas in July” like the ice cream truck driver, then you can even use a package of the mint Oreos…might give them that Christmas feel!

Now grab yourself a package of Oreos and try these out!

Oreo Balls

1 18 oz. pkg. Oreo cookies (not double stuff, you can use low fat Oreos though)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened

2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening or butter

**note: You can use almond bark (chocolate or vanilla) instead of the chocolate chips. You won’t need the shortening and can melt it in the microwave.

Mix cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add the crushed Oreos and beat on high until well mixed. Chill for at least 2 hours in the freezer. Then roll Oreo cookie mix into one inch Oreo Balls.

Next, melt the chocolate chips and shortening with a doubl e boiler or in the microwave.Dip the Oreo balls completely into the melted chocolate using tongs or a toothpick.Put on wax paper. After the Oreo balls harden, keep them in the refrigerator.Makes about 3 or 4 dozen Oreo Balls, depending on the size

And finally, I want you to know, it wasn’t all work and no pla
y for Jacob…Incredible Pizza just so happens to have a bowling alley. Jacob is quite a fan!

MckLinky Blog Hop