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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Year Older

Today began just like any other day...I woke up late (though it was to my favorite 6 year old jumping on my saying "today is momma's birthday"), got up and got on the train and went to work. Went through my normal day, until 1/2 hour before I was supposed to leave when my boss decided he wanted to meet with me. New position/ new boss, so I didn't tell him that I was planning on leaving early and went to meet with him. Of course the meeting ended about 5 minutes before my train, so I ran to the train station and didn't make the train I wanted but took the next one which got me home 15 minutes later than planned.


All of this is just "normal" in my day....but here comes the fun part:

My husband met me at the train with a car full of balloons, we went to my parents - where the kids were waiting and had dinner, they gave me birthday gifts (a camera, underwear - gifts from 6 year olds are great....LOL and homemade cookies - made by grandma and my two year old) and some cannoli pie.

Now ending my night with a fire and a nice glass of wine with the husband. After this normal day and a very nice evening with my family I am ending my day One Year Older and I couldn't be happier!!!





Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I am back....

I am back....

I know that it has been forever since my last post - I hope that didnt give up on me while I was gone.

I have been super busy with work. I got a promotion a couple of months ago, and of course my boys are keeping busy, my precious baby has officially turned into a terrible 2 year old...I had forgotten how much fun 2 year olds can be :)

Add to all that my new coupon hobby. I have been doing well saving money for our family and donating to others as well!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fun and Tasty Easter Project:

I will admit that I have not tried this yet, it is on the agenda for Friday night but it sounds like it will be really easy and fun for the kids.
Who doesn't LOVE rice krispie treats? We end up adapting recipes/ideas each holiday and many times that includes rice krispie treats because they are easy to mold into just about anything and the kids LOVE them. So Easter will be no different, we will be making rice krispie treat Easter eggs filled with jelly beans (I am sure everyone had already seen this on the commercial...but just in case you haven't here you go). My kids with be easter egg hunting with my husbands cousin (5 years old) on Saturday and my cousins (6-10 years old) on Sunday so the plan is to make enough of these to bring for both days.

What you need:
Plastic Eggs
Jelly Beans
gel icing in pastel colors to decorate
rice krispie's
marshmallow
butter

Here is what you do:

Just make a basic rice krispie treat recipe (you can genrally find it on the rice krispie box if you need it) but essentially you melt down the butter and marshmallow, dump it into a bowl of rice krispie's and mix to combine.

Next you will mold the rice krispie treat mix in each half of the plastic eggs (so you will have 1/2 a rice krispie treat egg) do not fill it completely because you will be adding jelly beans on the inside)

Fill the inside of one half of the rice krispie treat egg with jelly beans

Take the other half of the rice krispie treat egg and stick the two halfs together.

You will will end up with a whole rice krispie treat egg that has jelly beans inside.

From here you will want to take the gel icing and decorate the egg to make it look like an easter egg.

It sounds like it will be fun. We made rice krispie treat Christmas Trees at Christmas time and the year old loved it. I am sure he will be just as excited to make the Easter eggs and it will be a fun treat to bring as we visit family this weekend.

The Park Inn Hotel (near Hershey PA)

We decided on a last minute trip to Hershey, PA this weekend with out little guys. When we are planning last minute getaways we always check out Roomsaver first. Do you use Roomsaver for your last minute getaway's? If not, you should check them out. We basically use them as our fist resource for any weekend/long weekend trips.

So we checked out Roomsaver for Hotel deals and found a room at the Park Inn for $49 per night. The room rate was using the Roomsave coupon and was only supposed to be applied to walk-in guests. On Friday night (we were staying in Hershey on Saturday) my husband called the hotel, to (i) ensure that they would be honoring that room price (ii) ask what the availability looked like for the following night, (iii) make sure that the indoor pool would be available during our stay and (iv) ensure that they offer cribs to guests traveling with babies. While he was on the phone with the hotel I was checking out online reviews for this hotel.

The man who answered the phone that evening was so wonderful and accomadating. He answered all of our questions told us a little bit about the rooms, the distance from Hershey and the pool and restaurant at the hotel.

After reading more reviews I had a couple of concerns with the hotel (i) it is motel style so there is only outdoor access to the rooms (ii) that meant the my children would be walking outside to get back to the room in the middle of April (still a bit cold for that) (iii) some people said that the place was a bit dated. However, with hundreds of reviews on TripAdvisor the hotel averaged a 3 1/2 to 4 star rating on the reviews and every one that I read said that they staff was friendly, helpful and accomadating, that the rooms were clean and overall the experience was good. So we decided to go for it. If we got there and the place was too bad we just wouldn't stay there. That is one of the benefits (in my opinion) of using Roomsaver for last minute rooms, since they are mostly "walk-in" rates you can see the hotel before giving them your credit card and being commited.

So we called back just to get a better feel for how booked they were and if we would have to "walk in" first thing in the morning or if he thought there would be availability if we got there later in the day. The man working at the hotel said that he would book us a room (even though we were using the "walk-in" coupon) so that we didn't feel like we had to rush to get down there in the morning. Then while they were discussing the outside walk from the pool he told us that he had already booked us in the closest room that he had to the pool (we ended up being about 4-5 doors away and were quickly back in our room warming up after the swim).

When we arrived we were quickly checked in and given a key to our room. I will be 100% honest this was not a fancy/upscale motel. From the outside it looked a bit dated and once again, since there is no indoor access to the rooms it does give it that motel type of feeling. As soon as we entered our room though, I knew that we made the right choice for the money. It was a decent size room (not big, but big enough for our family of four), the had already sent the crib up to the room so that was waiting for us. There was not one thing that I could find out of place or that was not clean...there are a lot of hotels that are much more upscale and expensive that you could not say the room was 100% to your satisfaction. It wasn't anything special, but was a nice and clean hotel room which is the most important thing for me anyway.

Everything was going fine until we were eating dinner and the power went out. First completely dark and then the emergency lights came on. I was shocked that my boys didn't flip out, but they were very well behaved. Though everyone was sort of scrambling to figure out what to do (they had a wedding there that night too) they were very accomadating. We finished our meal, in the dark (which believe me is a task with a 16 month old and a 5 year old and they offered us flashlights and glow sticks to bring back to our room with us. The glow sticks were exciting for the 5 year old so his mood completely changed from "I am a little scared of the dark" to "this is a fun adventure". We obviously could not pay since all of the computers were down so they took our room number and said that they would bill it to the room.

We returned to the room, in the dark, and using our trusty flashlight got the boys ready for bed. Of course shortly after they both feel asleep we quickly realized that we had left the TV and lights on in the room before going to dinner. Luckily, I was quick to shut everything off and they stayed asleep.

The following morning we ordered room service and when my husband asked how much they charge for a pot of coffee (not because he didn't want to pay for it, but because he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to be paying for a $10 pot of coffee) they said they would send one up at no charge. Just one more small added touch that makes you feel good about the place that you are staying. Finally when my husband was checking out they noted that he had a charge on his room for dinner and asked him how his meal was. He replied that it was very good and we enjoyed the romantic candlelight meal...he was completely joking and didn't mean anything by it. The individual checking him out promptly removed the dinner from our bill - we didn't ask them to and honestly didn't expect them to. It was a transformer issue down the street and the whole block lost power, it wasn't really there fault so we didn't expect them to "eat" the cost of our meal...but it was nice that they did.

We had a great visit to this hotel. Yes, it is dated and not the nicest looking place in the world (from the outside) but we would absolutely stay there again, especially if we get the $49 Roomsaver rate.

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 8

This weeked we re-visited the bakery that inspired this cupcake adventure a few weeks. The bakery is the Sweet Shop in the Hotel Hershey, in Hershey, PA. We got a great deal on a room about 20 minutes from Hershey (through Roomsaver - if you don't use Roomsaver, especially for your last minute getaways you should check it out) so we decided to head down there for the weekend. We couldn't make the trip to Hershey withough stopping at this bakery that we came across on our last trip down there. They make 3 sizes of cupcakes, but we generally opt for the mini's....why? Because you feel slightly less guilty when you eat more than one of them.

Anyway, the little man had fallen asleep in the car so I took the 5 year old in to pick out cupcakes to bring home with us. I let him choose the 6 mini's that we were going to get. He said that he definately wanted the smore's one...which was one of our favorite's last time (so we went with 2 of those) and he wanted carrot cake (one for him and one for daddy) and he said he wanted "velvet cake" so we got one of those and went with one vanilla cake with pink buttercream (which I believe is just a dyed vanilla buttercream). So we got our cupcakes packed up and we headed back out to the car.

When we got to the car though, my husband was getting the baby out - they were coming in to meet up but we were to quick. So we all headed back in and decided to have a little treat in front of the fire before heading back out. So my husband got 7 more mini's (3 for us to eat there and 4 more to bring home). For our snack my husband went with the carrot cake one, I had a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and peanut butter chips on top and the 5 year old dug into the smores cupcake. They were all just as delicious as they were the first time. The 5 year old devoured the Smore's one - he was so excited that we were br more of them for later. We offered the little guy (16 months) a cupcake and was pushing it away and wouldn't even try it. Good for him - at least I may have one child who likes to eat healthy.

If you happen to live near / visit the Hershey area, check out the Sweet Shop inside the Hotel Hershey.

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 7

Early last week you may have seen my tweet that my 5 year old wanted to make "square cupcakes stuffed with frosting". I generally don't think of cupcakes as being square so this got me thinking about everything from what pan I would bake them in to what size squares to how we would fill them. In thinking about how we could make these square cupcakes stuffed with frosting the though of our homemade ice cream sandwiches popped into my head (not really sure why, or what triggered that thought).


This thought triggered the idea for our square sandwich "cupcakes". We actually started with a chocolate cake that we then baked in a rectangle cake pan. We actually made a cake batter that was closer to a brownie consistency to make the next process of cutting it a little bit easier. Once cooked we cut the cake into squares and circles and then cut those pieces in half (across). The two halves were then layered with cream cheese frosting to basically end up looking similar to a whoopie pie. They were delicious and the little guy got to make his square "cupcakes" stuffed with frosting. Though I had a cake that was somewhere between the consistency of a cake and a brownie I think that we will be making these next time we make brownies in our house too.

Are you in a rush to have this wonderfully yummy snack? Try using the Tollhouse pull and bake brownie bites (for a cute one bite treat) they are actually the best pre-prepared brownie bites that I have found. Bake them according to the package directions and let cool. Either make or buy cream cheese frosting and layer two brownie bites with the cream cheese frosting in the middle. As another option, mix chocolate chips into the cream cheese frosting.




















Here is the 5 year old trying one of the round ones

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011


Well, I am showing up a little bit late for the party, but I will just have to make the most of the next couple of days.  Let me start by telling you a little bit about me.


I began blogging just over 1 year ago (the end of March 2010) and the UBP was actually my first blog event that I participated in.  I loved that so quickly after starting my blog I was able to participate in this event which allowed me to *meet* some wonderful bloggers.
I am a mom of two wonderful (and sometimes crazy) boys.  My little guys are 5 (will be 6 in May) and 16 months.  I began blogging a few months after the baby was born thinking that it would be a way to keep track of what the boys are up to because I am just not too good with the baby book thing.  My blog now includes a little bit of everything.  I talk about what my boys are up to, but I also write about our family adventures, recipes, baby food making and family fun tip.  You will find a little bit of everything here.
I work full time, outside of the home and have an hour commute each way.  This makes for a VERY hectic week and definately not as much time with the boys as I would like.  This means my husband and I try to make the most of the time we have with the little guys on the weekend.  We do a lot of day trips and long weekends as well as just spending time at home.  The 5 year old loves cooking/baking with us so when we are having a low key weekend we will generally make cupcakes or brownies as a special treat.
I hope everyone is enjoying the blog party and I hope you enjoyed visiting my blog. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 6

We took a week off from baking and visited a local bakery (Sugar Bakery and Sweet Shop) that specializes in cupcakes. They actually competed in and won Cupcake Wars. We have been wanting to go there for a while, but they aren't open on Sunday's and it seems our Saturdays have just been too busy to stop in there.

Well I have to say that after just one visit I have a slight obsession with their cupcakes. They were amazing, I can tell why they won Cupcake Wars. Poor planning on my part put us at the bakery about 15 minutes before closing so they were sold out of some of their cupcake varieties and I did have an unfortunate incident, in which I asked one of the women behind the counter for the last chocolate chip cheesecake cupcake and while she was in the back getting a box the other woman behind the counter sold it to someone else. I was a little disappointed - but since I did not want to be the next crazy cupcake lady, I shrugged it off and went with the Oreo cupcake instead. My husband went with the chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate mouse and topped with chocolate frosting and the 5 year old went with the chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and Reese Pieces on top. After completing our purchase we went out to the car and began to dig in to our cupcakes. My husband got half way through and decided he was going in to buy a couple more before we left, which was a good thing since the 5 year old ate half of my cupcake (he was saving his until after dinner).

The chocolate cake (which is somehow what we all ended up with for our first round of cupcakes) was amazing. It had the perfect consistency. They were spoungy and light on the inside with just a slightly thicker consistency on the top. The frosting/fillings were a perfectly sweetened, they were not too sweet like some of the fillings/frosting that you will find in cupcakes and were perfectly balanced by the cake. The cakes were so good that I actually wanted to dig into round two of the cupcakes that evening, but I was able to keep my obsession for these cupcakes in check and we saved round two for Sunday.

We only had two additional cupcakes for Sunday. We went with the Chocolate cake, chocolate mouse and chocolate frosting, because we all loved that one and also decided to try the Red Velvet cake. My 5 year old LOVES Red Velvet cake so once again, my husband got to wat his own cupcake and I got to share with the 5 year old. He had a couple of bites and that was it for him - he liked it, but had just finished lunch and wasn't very hungry - that worked out great for me since I was able to eat the rest of the cupcake. The red velvet was good and had a nice little tang that mixed perfectly with the creaminess of the cream cheese frosting. But by far our favorite was the Chocolate cake with chocolate mouse and chocolate frosting. We will be buying them again - I am positive of that.

I must add that I am happy that we had the misunderstanding at the beginning of our visit and that they sold the last chocolate chip cheesecake cupcake right out from under me....why??? Now I have an excuse to go back there and I can't wait. It is so dangerous that I found this bakery less than 10 miles from my house.

Any locals who have not visited this bake shop - you have to stop in there, you don't know what you are missing.



Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 5

Sunday was my husbands birthday so he choose what cupcakes were on the menu...thats only fair right??? He decided that he wanted pineapple cake with coconut cream cheese frosting. The first time I made the was a little less than a year ago. I made the pineapple cupcakes to go with the sponge bob cake that my husband made for the 5 year olds birthday party (sponge bob live in a pineapple - get where I was going with that???
They were a huge hit and super easy. They have been a favorite in our house ever since. The first time I made the I used a Butter Cake (box cake mix) and it was amazing...horrible for you but really good. I simply filled the cupcake tin 1/3 of the way layered the crushed pineapples and the layered on some more cake batter. Then I made a normal cream frosting and simply mixed the coconut in at the end.
This weekend I made a white cake and once the batter was just about done I added the pineapple in and let in continue mixing for another minute to disburse the pineapple throughout the batter.
The 5 year old wanted to make a cake so using the same recipe we made a small round cake, cupcakes and sandwich cupcakes (cut in half and layered with crushed pineapple ans coconut cream cheese frosting in the middle. They were just as good as I hoped they would be...these cupcakes will continue to be a favorite in our house!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Boys are at it again

Well mostly the little guy (16 months)...he has major issues with not getting his way. This weekend my husband was reading an Elmo book to the little guy and the 5 year old came over to listen. He didn't even go near the book he was just standing off to the side listening. The little guy turned around and grabbed the 5 year old and pushed him to the ground. Yes, my 16 month old is beating up his big brother over an Elmo book. The little guy got in trouble, but really how much impact does it make at that age anyway???
Later I was reading to the little guy while his brother was watching a movie. Every time the 5 year old would look over at us the little guy would slam the book shut and then 30 seconds later he would be saying "book, book" for me to read to him again. This of course became a game for the 5 year old.
Honestly I thought it would take a little more than 16 months for the boys to start tormenting each other, especially since they are 4 1/2 years different in age..I guess that was just wishful thinking.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 4

 

We actually decided to pass on making the cupcakes this week for one reason, I ate too many other desserts and wanted to be able to button my pants today.  I brought the 5 year old to friendly's on Friday night, we had Rita's custard on Saturday and had more Rita's ice on Sunday (because it is free and really, who can turn down free desserts).

 

The 5 year old and I did get a bit of cupcake inspiration for the future though.  My husband picked up some of those mini desserts from Starbucks (whoops, did I forget to mention that above - they are tiny so they don't count...right???) on Friday afternoon and we tried the mini red velvet whoopie pies.  The 5 year old loved them and we started talking about making sandwich cupcakes. 

 

I love the idea of a mini cupcake (or a regular size one) cut in half with the frosting layered in between.  Red velvet is a perfect example too because you have the white cream cheese frosting against the deep red cake.  But why stop there, why not cut a chocolate cupcake and fill with a peanut butter or an Oreo frosting or cut a white cake and use a whipped cream frosting and fresh fruit to mimic a shortcake.  I am so excited to start creating them.

 

The creating will have to be put on hold for a couple of weeks, because my husbands birthday is next Sunday and he has already requested pineapple upside down cake (I am currently trying to decide between a full cake, cupcakes or using my perfect brownie pan to make mini cakes).

 

Check back next week to see which pineapple upside down cake I decided to go with.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sweet Potato topped with a Cranberry and Apple Compote:

I have a sweet potato and cranberry recipe that will be a hit from young to old and with a few simple modifications can be served to anyone from your little baby to the adults at your holiday table (or any time of year). This is also a great way to trick your picky eater into enjoying vegetables.

When I make this recipe, I generally plan about 1/2 to 1 large sweet potato per person and 1-1/2 cups of the cranberry apple compote. You may end up with some left over, but I have found that people generally go back for seconds on this one. If you do end up with leftovers it is a perfect addition to a turkey sandwich or will easily keep as a side dish for a chicken dinner at another point during the week.

To make 4 servings you will need:
1.)  2 baked (or steamed) Sweet Potato's
2.)  A 1 lb bag of Fresh Cranberries (you can use frozen as well, just make sure that there is no sugar or syrup added)
3.)  1 cup of fruit juice (you can use just about any kind - grape, cranberry, pomegranate, apple, apple cider) or water
4.)  The zest of one orange
5.)  The juice of that orange
6.)  The zest of 1 lemon
7.)  The juice of that lemon
8.)  1 cup sugar (depending on the sugar content in the juice you are adding you can modify this amount)
9.)  1 Apple (you can dice or chunk based on the consistency that you want to achieve)

Note: the cranberry apple compote portion of the recipe will make about 4 cups (of which you will only need about 1 to 1 1/2 cups for this recipe) but make the whole amount, I promise you that it will be eaten and enjoyed. I also like to make the cranberry and apple compote a day in advance so it has time to set up and allows the flavors to come together. However, you can make it that day and it will taste just fine.

What to do:
1.)  Rinse Cranberries and add to a medium saucepan
2.)  Add the 1 cup of the Juice of your choice (you can replace the juice with water, but I like the juice for added flavor)
3.)  Add the juice from the orange and the lemon
4.)  Add Sugar (check out my mommy tips, below, for how to reduce/eliminate the added sugar)
5.)  Cook on low until the the cranberries begin to pop (generally between 5-10 minutes)
6.)  Once the cranberries have begun to pop add:
      a.)  Zest from the orange
      b.)  Zest from the lemon
      c.)  The apple - I like to chunk it so that there are pieces of apple in the sauce, but for young children you can cut into small dices if you would like

7.)  Continue to cook another 5 minutes or so, just until the apples begin to soften a bit. My preference is to leave some of the cranberries in tact as well as still having a little bite to the apples. If you are cooking for baby or young children you may want to cook down a bit further to a "sauce" consistency.
















8.)  Bake the sweet potato's (feel free to bake, steam, roast, grill, etc... based on your preference and how you will choose to present the dish)

















How to serve:
For baby - you will want to puree the sweet potato:

For baked sweet potato's just let them cool a bit, peel them and chuck them and place them in your food processor or blender with a bit of water if necessary to get the desired consistency for your baby.

If you have steamed them just remove the chunk from the steamer and place them in the food processor or blender to puree. Again, feel free to add a bit of water if necessary to get the desired consistency for your baby.

If you choose to add the cranberry to your baby's dish you can puree the cranberry apple sauce (or plain cranberry puree - eliminate the apples and zest from the recipe and be sure to use 100% fruit juice) with the sweet potato. Also check out my mommy tips (below) for some of the way's that I reduce / eliminate the added sugar when make these cranberries for my little ones.

For your toddler/child - mash the sweet potato and fold together with 1-1/2 cups of cranberry apple sauce. The amount of cranberry will depend on the size of your sweet potato's and the amount of "meat" you get out of them. This will be a much healthier option for your children (and the whole family) than the more traditional gooey marshmallow topping that you may find on a sweet potato casserole.

For your older children and adults - cut the baked sweet potato in half and top with the cranberry apple sauce you can even top with some crushed walnuts if you would like. I promise you won't miss the buttery, brown sugary, cinnamony topping that you may normally add to your baked sweet potato.

The end result is a simple, yummy and healthy festive side dish for the whole family.

**Mommy Tip**

When making for baby's and small children (or even if you are just making it for adults) you may want to check out these tips to reduce the added sugar in the cranberries.

1.) The Juice will act as a sweetener and allow you to reduce the amount of sugar that you add to this dish. I like to add 100% fruit juice (with no added sugar) as a way to add sweetness without adding sugar. Using a sweet apple instead of a tart apple will allow you to reduce the sugar as well. Replace the lemon juice with the juice of another orange or a couple of small tangerines. By using these tips you can basically reduce the added sugar to a very minimal amount.

2.) If you don't want to add any sugar, you can combine with a sweeter fruit puree (think pears or peaches) to cut through some of the tartness of the cranberry.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Fun

This is generally our parade weekend,  there are two local parades (each one town away) and we generally go to both of them.  This year, we decided to take the kids to the more family friendly parade and skip the larger and a little less family friendly one.  The larger one is the 6th oldest St. Patricks Day parade in the country and is the largest parade in our state and though we love to go to it (and I have been going since I was a baby) we decided that since the older one doesn't generally like parades anyway and since it is one of those once you get in you can't get out type of things, added to the fact that the 5 year old had a birthday party to go to on Sunday afternoon, we would watch that parade on TV from the comfort of our living room.

 

We did however attend the smaller parade on Saturday.  The 5 year old actually marched with my mom's Irish Dance Group, since he is the one who generally doesn't like the noise of the parades, it was better that he marched with them then standing on the "sidelines" watching.  The baby loved it, the noise from the marching bands did not bother him one bit and he just sat in his stroller dancing and clapping.  Even when they shot the guns he just laughed.  While there we got to see some friends thst we hadn't seen in a while too so that was a nice added bonus.

 

After the parade we went with my mom and her dancers to a local pub that was having an after parade party with music and of course my moms dancers were preforming.  The baby loved the band and the music and was running around like crazy, until he just about feel asleep standing up - this was right as we were getting ready to leave.  The 5 year old was so tired from marching in the parade that he was ready to head home too.

 

On Saturday evening, I was volunteered to help my mom with one of the shows that her dancers were performing at.  She had 15 shows on Saturday, 5 of which were right around the same time on Saturday night so she asked me to run one of them.  Realistically, though I taught for a while in College, I haven't danced in about 10 years so I was a little out of my comfort zone, but the performance went well.  I even ended up having to fill in for one of the girls that was sick and if I do say so myself I did fine!!! Good think I have been doing my cardio lately.

 

As I said we did not choose to attend Sunday'a parade in person but we did watch it as a family at home.  The little guys both watched for a bit, played for a bit, etc... so it was nice for them to be home. After watching the parade the 5 year old and I made St Patricks Day cupcakes before getting him ready to go to his friends karate birthday party.  It was a good thing that we decided to skip the parade he was exhausted after the birthday party so if we had done something else earlier in the day, I think it would have been a really bad evening with him.  He gets slightly off the wall when he is over-tired.

 

So we had an enjoyable family filled pre St Patricks Day weekend and as long as the weather holds out next weekend we will be following it up with a post St. Patricks day parade weekend as well.

 

Someone tell my 5 year old that we are NOT a co-sleeping family

 

Let me start by saying that I LOVE my children and I have nothing against co-sleeping (to a point) if thats what you choose, but I NEED my sleep.  The closest that we have ever come to co-sleeping is the moses basket that we got as a gift and used for the baby (and once again that was only because I NEED my sleep).  Well the 5 year old has started this nightly routine in which he comes into our bed between 3 and 4 am.  Which is not the best time for this when you know you have to get up at 6.  By the time we get him back to bed and get ourselves back to sleep it is just about time to wake up again. 

 

So here is the problem - at first I wasn't good about getting up and putting him back to bed,  so I would tell him to go back to bed and sometimes he would and other times he would get in our bed and go back to sleep.  This worked out nicely because I could basically just sleep through it (waking up just long enough to acknowlegde him).  However, since I didn't put him back to bed, it became more frequent and he is in our room just about every night now.  So we have been trying to be strict about getting up and putting him back to bed, because (1) he kicks me while he is sleeping and (2) I really can't let this become more of a habit then it already is.  The problem with being strict about putting him back to bed is that it means getting up, dealing with crying, dealing with what ever the reason is that he CAN'T go back to sleep, finally getting him to stay in bed, getting myself back to bed, finally falling alseep and him coming back into the room - or it being time to get up (depends on the night).

 

So, can someone please tell my son that we are NOT a co-sleeping family so that we can all go back to getting a full nights sleep?

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 3

This was the weekend to try some St. Patricks Day cupcakes.  It didn't go exactly how I initially planned it, but the cupcakes we made did come out good.

Initially my plan was to make two batches, one would be Chocolate and Guinness cupcakes and the other would be the kid-friendly cupcakes with green frosting and/or white frosting with green sprinkles.  My husband, however, shot down my idea of trying the Chocolate and Guinness cupcakes.  He said he didn't think he would like them and he probably wouldn't eat any and though I could and probably would eat a batch of cupcakes on my own I decided against making these cupcakes since I had nobody to share them with.



I did however, make our kid friendly St. Patricks day cupcakes with the five year old.  This is what we ended up with, a white cupcakes with vanilla frosting and green sugar sprinkles and green cupcakes with green vanilla frosting some with sprinkles and some with out.  I will admit that some of the sprinkles my little guy choose to use were more spring pastely greens, instead of the dark green that would be expected on a St. Patricks Day cupcake and realistically (to me) they looked more like Easter/Spring cupcakes than St. Patricks Day cupcakes.  Maybe we will make them as "Spring" cupcakes in a few weeks.


So even though the weekend cupcake baking didn't go as planned we still ended our weekend with a yummy treat and most importantly the 5 year old enjoyed making them - even though he only ate the frosting!!! I still have a couple of days to try to convince my wonderful husband that Chocolate/Guinness cupcakes will be yummy and that we should have them as a St Patricks Day treat. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: My Boys

Decorating cookies at Hershey





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My little man is sick

He has has a cough since last wee. Well last night he was up on and off throughout the night and was so phlemmy (is that a word and if so is it spelled correctly?) that he was actually gagging and vommiting a bit. We decided to make a doctors appointment for him today. I am not "that" mom who brings her child to the doctor for every little cough/sneeze (especially with our 2nd child) but it's been a few days and we all really need some sleep.
nyway, as expected he has a cold and we just need to let it run it's course. She said if it's not clearing up by Friday or if he gets a fever to bring him back.

No big surprise - but I just hate when my little guys are sick.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My little guy is going to be a troublemaker

I can see it already...his big brother (the 5 year old) was in time out yesterday for not listening and talking back. We were even at the point that we had added time because he wasn't even behaving in time out. Well we get the 5 year old about halfway through his time out when the little guy (15 months) goes up to his brother and starts pulling him out of time out by the back of his shirt. I couldn't believe it...the baby was pulling the 5 year old out of the time out corner.


The funniest part was when the 5 year old went back to the corner to finish his time out and the baby pulled him out of time out again. We actually had to bring the baby out of the room so the 5 year old could finish his time out.

I see this becoming a problem when the baby gets older!!!

Weekend Day Trip

When we use the phrase "day trip" in our family it can mean anything from an adventure 20 minutes away to an adventure 4 hours away. Though when we get into the upper range (3-4 hours) we may stay the night, most of the time we will do it in one day. This weekend was one of those times. We began our day Saturday with the plan of grabbing breakfast out and then heading to the grand opening of a local (about 30 min away) cupcake shop. We did both of those things, but continued from the cupcake shop and headed another couple of hours away to check out an adorable little chocolate factory and pretzel factory near the Pocono's in Pennsylvania.

We take these road trips frequently and we do go to Pennsylvania frequently (we were just there two weeks ago) but we have never been to that area so we figured why no check it out. We loved the area, it was beautiful. We went to Callies Candy Kitchen and Callies Pretzel Facory (http://www.calliescandy.com/) they were small places about a few miles away from each other and they were in converted houses. They were adorable and the people working at both places were so sweet. At the candy shop they had wonderful molded candies (that you could watch them make) in every shape/character you can think of, but the real surprise were their "chocolate covered" items and their "barks." They had chocolate covered sunflower seeds and gummy bears, chocolate cover pretzels and potato chips and then came the way out of the norm items (and honestly we would go back there to try some of the other "out of the norm" options). We tried chocolate covered grapes (which the 5 year old loves) they were littlerally a grape covered in chocolate and they were wonderful. We also tried the bacon bark wich was basically a stick of chocolate with bacon in it - the sweet and salty combo was really good. Last but not least, we tried chocolate covered cream cheese. Yes, you read that correctly. It was simply a cream cheese square covered in chocolate. At first bite, it does sort of feel like you are biting into a block of cream cheese but it quickly combines with the chocolate and to give the impression of eating a chocolate cheese cake. I will admit that I was a little scared to try it, but honestly, it was good. I would try it again, and we will most likely be back there to try some of their other fun chocolate dipped creations in the future.

From there we headed to their pretzel factory. When I say factory, I mean a room in the back of another converted house that has machines that they use to make pretzels. But they are wonderful. You can watch them make the pretzels and then you can buy pre-packaged of fresh made pretzels and popcorn. We got pretzel dogs as an early dinner, and soft pretzels as well and then we tried a bunch of popcorn flavors from (cheddar cheese, to cheese and garlic to buffalo wing and the list goes on) and ended up with a couple of bags of popcorn too.

From there we just headed back home. We were home and the boys were in bed about an hour after bedtime and it would have been closer but we hit some traffic that held us up a bit. Not too bad, our timing was relatively close and even though the little man slept in the car he slept until 6:45 the following morning so we were happy with that (I was worried that the sleeping in the car would mess him up).

One more wonderful family adventure under our belts.

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 2

This week my cupcake adventure was not a cupcake baking adventure, but a cupcake eating adventure at the Grand Opening of a local (30 min away) cupcake bakery. I read an article about them online last week and so my husband and I decided to take the kids.

The bakery, Cupcakes & Milkshakes, is a 50's theme bakery featuring cupcakes and a milkshake bar, as the name implys. For the most part the cupcakes are the "normal" flavors you would find at any cupcake shop (chocolate with buttercream, vanilla with buttercream, chocolate with mint frosting and of course red velvet), however, there were a couple of surprises. They had a mock hostess cupcake complete with the cream filling and the white icing squiggle on top. They also had a peanut butter and jelly cupcake that had a mild peanut butter cake, filled with peanut butter and jelly and frosted with a peanut butter frosting. For me the thing that made this unique was that the peanut butter frosting actually had a little saltiness to it, like real peanut butter. I have had peanut butter frosting that is so sweet you can barely tell that they are intended to be peanut butter flavored. My husband wasn't a fan of those ones but I liked it.
The big surprise though, was the variety of milkshakes from bannana split (including all the components of a banana split, even the sprinkles) to root beer float to an orange milkshake made with tang. They had many more out of the ordinary options as well.
For the grand opening they did mini cupcakes and mini milkshakes and it was a great idea. They gave you just enough of a taste to entice you to buy some cupcakes. They gave samples of the peanut butter and jelly, the chocolate with mint frosting and the chocolate buttercream cupcakes. My favorite of the three samples was the peanut butter and jelly. My husband and I also agreed that we liked the chocolate with mint frosting, though we both thought that because the mint was so flavorful it worked best in the mini cupcake form. The baby immediately went for the mint one, but as soon as he tasted the mint frosting he was done. He did, however go back for the chocolate cake and liked that. The 5 year old (mr picky) waited for daddy to buy a box of cupcakes and then attacked the peanut butter cup one. He is not a big cake eater (he is however a frosting eater) so he seemed to be more excited about them milkshakes.
We had a really good experience, the place was cute, the people were friendly and most importantly the cupcakes (and milkshakes) were good. We ended up buying 6 to bring some. We went with a variety of peanut butter cup (2), chocolate, vanilla, fake hostess and what turned out to be everyones favorite, the oreo one.

The only criticism that I would have is that I would like them to offer mini cupcakes as well. The cupcakes are wonderful, but some of them have such bold flavors that for me they are more suited to a small cupcake (a couple of bites) than an huge cupcake. The benefit to the big cupcakes though, is that we all got to share each one.
We enjoyed our cupcake adventure this weekend and are looking forward to making some St. Patricks day cupcakes next weekend, so stay tuned.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

ShoeDazzle - Sponsored Post

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Harry Connick Jr: In Concert on Broadway - Sponsored Post

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Monday, February 28, 2011

My Cupcake Adventure - Week 1

You may have seen my post about us (as a family) being inspired by the cupcakes at the Hotel Hershey's bakery last weekend. Well with all that inspiration we (husband, 5 year old and myself) decided that a baking weekend was in order. Here is what was on the menu:

1.) Homemade ice cream sandwiches - nothing to do with cupcakes....but yummy

2.) S'mores Cupcakes - a recreation of a cupcake we had at that bakery

3.) Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Blueberry Icing - the 5 year olds invention

I will admit that I am not much of a baker (every now and then I get motivated but for the most part the only baking done at our house is during the Holiday's). So how did we do?

The ice cream sandwiches were so simple and so good. We made really big chocolate chip cookies, let them completely cool, put a slice of ice cream in the middle and let them sit in the freezer for a few hours until they were completely frozen - then we shared them because they were too big for one person to eat alone :) They were a huge success - they will definitely be made in our house again.

The S'mores cupcake. This was my husbands attempt at recreating one of the cupcakes that we had last weekend at the Hotel Hershey. He did an amazing job for his first attempt at recreating this cupcake and it really tasted like you were eating S'mores. By his own admission he needs to adjust the amount of cinnamon and get a kitchen torch (instead of the broiler) for the marshmallow on top but it turned out really well. This Graham Cracker flavored cupcake, with a chocolate kiss in the middle and marshmallow fluff topping (browned quickly in the broiler) will also be made again in our house - my husband says he wants to perfect it.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


The Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Blueberry Icing cupcakes were the creation of my 5 year old after seeing them use fresh fruit in the frosting on DC Cupcakes. He said "it will really healthy and really yummy." While I don't think that adding blueberries to frosting makes it good for you, we helped him make his creation. It came out good. The cake consistency was perfect. The blueberry icing, however, didn't really taste enough like blueberry. We will obviously make the Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cupcakes....because who wouldn't LOVE those? As for the frosting/icing, I will be working on coming up with a really flavorful fruit frosting. I think my next attempt at this frosting will be over a blueberry/lemon zest cupcake.

Overall we had a very successful weekend of baking and we had fun!!! My favorite part is how into is the 5 year old was. He LOVES cooking and baking with us (and tells us he wants to own a restaurant when he grows up) so anytime he is excited about it I try to encourage it....even if it means that mommy is going to eat about a million extra calories in dessert alone - I guess I just have to take one for the team :)

My Cupcake Adventure

"My Mommy Adventure" has a new adventure....Cupcakes. We were inspired by the bakery at the Hotel Hershey last weekend. We tried a variety of very yummy mini cupcakes. We tried the smores cupcake - which actually had a graham cracker flavored cake. The 5yo was inspired when DC Cupcakes was on the other day - they made frostings with berries in the frosting for color and flavor. The 5yo decided he wanted to try a chocolate cupcake with blueberry frosting and a blueberry on top.
With all of this cupcake inspiration we decided to have a baking weekend. We made homemade ice cream sandwichs (which has nothing to do with cupcakes...but they are yummy), our version of the Smores cupcake and a chocolate, chocolate chip cupcake with blueberry icing. Our baking weekend was a big success - except for the fact that I ate too much.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My boy needs a History lesson

I saw this little girl on Rachael Ray yesterday that could point out all the Presidents at age 2. That inspired me to quiz the 5 year old to see what he knew about the Presidents...Well he knew that Barack Obama was the current President, but when we asked him about the 1st President, he hesitated. My husband began to say "Geor" to see if our little guy would come up with it. He quickly blurts out "Jordyn Sparks"...yes, you read that correctly, my 5 year old guessed that Jordyn Sparks was the first President of the United States.

My husband and I were laughing hysterically. My first thought was "how did he know Jordyn Sparks"? He quickly told me that she is on one of the Suite Life shows. Ok, but you really have no clue about the first President.

We have some work to do. Time to start some at home history lessons.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Are we going away this weekend?

It's Friday morning and we haven't decided if we are going away for the weekend. You would think it would be a simple decision right? Either you are going or not...we found a hotel, with good reviews, with a pool for the kids and in our price range so why are we questioning it?
My husband is getting nervous about traveling with both boys!!! He is worried about the 5 hour drive each way (that will most likely turn into at least 6 hours), he is worried about them behaving in the car, he is worried that the 5 year old won't let the 1 year old nap in the car. He is concerned that the baby will miss his naps and be cranky and that he won't sleep at night when we are all in the room. While these may all seem like valid concerns...it is funny to me because the 1 year old has been on two week long vacations (the first one at 6 weeks), both were farther away (the second was 8 hours in the car with no traffic-there was traffic). The 5 year old has been to every state on the east coast (by car) except the Carolinas and Georgia because we decided to fly when we went to Florida.
So how could a parent who has done so much traveling with the kids be worried about a simple overnight???
I don't know either but he's running out of time...he will have to commit one way or the othet soon!!!
So my question to you...do you find traveling with your little ones to be fun or stressful?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Trying to decide if we will do an overnight "vacation" this weekend

My husband brought it up a couple of days ago...he mentioned bringing the boys to PA. My husband (and my 5 year old) love PA. Personally, I would pick Boston...but I think the boys are going to win...so now onto looking for a reasonably priced, last minute on a holiday weekend hotel room. Wish me luck (at least I will probably have better luck in PA then I would have had in Boston)!!!

"ELBO"

The 1 year old has been saying words for a while but has trouble with his "m" sound. Mama generally sounds very similar to baba. About a week ago his big brother taught him who Elmo was using an Elmo food set that my mom has at her house. Ever since then my little guy is obsessed...he watched Sesame Street the other day and sat still for most of the show (which shocked me) and evertime he sees one of his brothers stuffed elmo's he starts yelling "Elbo" and runs over to grab it. His favorite by far is tickle me elmo...but only when it is shaking...for some reason he doesn't like elmo when he laughs without shaking. I guess it's time to convince the 5 year old to let the baby "borrow" one of his 4 Elmo's.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham


One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish

First time getting his face painted - Cat in the Hat nose and wiskers


Story Time


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Toddler Tantrums...

Terrible Two's are starting EARLY in our house. My little guy will be 14 months next week and he already has the temper tantrum thing down. We had a little of this with our older guy, but not too much. I know that a big part of it is that he knows what he wants but can't communicate it yet. He says words (dada, mama, brother, up, look, baba, hi, bye-bye, etc....) and his non-verbal communication is usually enough to get the point across, but he wants to be able to tell us what he wants/needs and he is not there yet. He gets frustrated.

Two days ago he was walking around playing with his Little People and he fell. When he feel he dropped his toy on the ground. He immediately started crying uncontrollably. My husband tried to give him his toy back and he wouldn't take it he just kept crying for a couple of minutes until he decided to get back up and play with something else. When you tell him "no" he goes through a simliar routine and since he gets into EVERYTHING he does hear the word "no" every once in a while.

It seems like the times we are seeing him act up seem to be when he is getting tired. Either right before nap time or right before bed time - and when he gets like that he doesn't want to be held, but he doesn't want to be put down either so you can't really comfort him to try to calm him down. These "tantrums" are not frequent, just every now and then, so I am hoping that in the coming months...as he becomes more verbal maybe this will subside. Though I am sure it will begin to subside just in time for the real "terrible twos."

In the meatime, I would love to hear from other people out there who are going through the Toddler Tantrum stage too!!! What are you doing to avoid tantrums/re-direct your little ones?

My little guy got his first real boo-boo!!!

This morning he feel into the coffee table and hit his mouth. My husband was home (I was at work) and the baby was walking around in the living room. Well since he is a relatively new walker he must have lost his balance and hit his face right into the coffee table. Of course my husband felt horrible because he was sitting right there, he just had no way of knowing that the baby would fall and he said it was one of those things that just happened to fast.

From what I was told, my poor little mans mouth was gushing...but when it finally stopped and was all cleaned up it was a relatively small cut on the inside of his lip. Very soon after that he was trying to steal his brother's lunchable so I am assuming he is just fine.

I think it was more traumatic for daddy than it was for the baby :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

We have a walker....

My little guy started walking the day after Christmas. He was walking along furniture and taking a step or two prior to that but hadn't really tried to walk on his own. So at 13 months and 1 day he took off.

Who did he walk for???? Not mommy or daddy....he walked for the first time in front of his big brother. Our 5 year old was so excited...He was yelling "mommy, mommy he walked. He walked by himself." When he told me that the baby walked the length of the table I fully assumed that he was holding on, but the 5 year old insisted that he was not holding onto the table.

Within minutes he was walking all over the living room. He gets so excited every time he walks too, you can see by the smile on his face that he is proud of himself...I am sure that is in part do to the fact that everyone (especially the 5 year old) makes a big deal out of it.

Now onto the toddler stage (no more baby)....we are going to be in trouble with this one!!! He has already proven to be a climber and now that he is walking too, I am seeing trouble in my very near future...but on the upside there is nothing cuter than a little baby learning to walk and trying to figure out how/where to move their feet for the next step. I LOVE it!!!

Tired feet, magical movie night and gingerbread houses:Written before Christmas

I just realized that I wrote this post the weekend before Christmas and never posted it...so here it is!!!

This was our weekend. We started by going to New York City on Friday afternoon / evening. My husband asked me that morning (while I was only half awake) and we decided that they (my husband and the boys) would take the train and I would meet them at the train station near my work and we would continue into the city. Once the 5 year old found out we were going he called me at work screaming (in excitment) that they were going to pick me up at work and we were going to go to New York City. We really only had a few hours in the city so we went to FAO Schwartz, dinner, then the tree and watched the skating. Everyone had a really good time until it was time to walk back to the train station. We had a crying baby and a whining 5 year old because his feet hurt (which I completly understand) but there was little we could do about either while walking back to the train station. We got to the station and realized that the train that would be leaving in about 20 minutes was an express so we held off for that one (it got us home with the kids in bed less than 2 hours after we left the city - can't complain about that). Once we were on the train both children got their second wind and were wide awake and playing the whole way home (I feel really bad for the poor people sharing a train car with us). I was sure that they would both sleep on the train but no way mommy and daddy were getting off that easy.

Then onto Saturday where our day started with my dad coming over to fix our roof, we spent some time with him and then got ready to go to Polar Express Night. My friend was putting this event on as a fundraiser it was so great for the little ones. Santa, Mrs. Claus and Elf and the Train Conductor were all there to great everyone (and take pictures) as we came in. Then they had some art projects for the children along with reading the Polar Express and watching the movie. The night was complete with hot dogs, popcorn, juice boxes, hot chocolate and desserts to snack on while watching the movie. All the children (and some adults) came in their pajama's and brought their sleeping bags / blankets and pillows to snuggle in for movie time. The 5 year old loved the whole thing (except Santa - though we were able to get him to sit with Santa, he didn't seem to excited about it (this is the first year that we have been able to get a picture with Santa). The baby was ok - it was a long time for him to be in one place - he fussed a little, but for the most part he was fine. We quickly found out that we have another Santa hater on our hands since he flipped out as soon as we went near Santa...oh well I am used to it now!!!

One more fun filled and busy day concluded our weekend. It started by going out to breakfast with the boys and then we all headed over to one of my best friends houses to see her and her new baby (and her older son and husband of course). After visiting with them we did some shopping to pick up some much needed items for some afternoon baking fun. Once the baby was napping we woke up the 5 year old (who also decided to nap - he had a really busy weekend) and decorated out ginger bread house. After that we rolled out some frozen cookie dough (because it was getting late) and made some fun Christmas cookie cutter cookies. They came out of the oven too late last night to cool before decorating so that will be our project for tonight. I wrapped up my night last night by addressing Christmas cards (because I just recieved them on Saturday) and had to get them out today so that people had a shot at getting them before Christmas!!!

After such a long busy weekend - I still have a million things to do before Christmas. I know that if we stayed home this weekend I would feel much better about what I have left to do, but I wouldn't trade any part of my weekend for anything.

"Our" First Report Card

Right before the Christmas Holiday our 5 year old got his first report card. I was so nervous to open it. I have no idea why - he is in Kindergarten, how bad could it be, but nonetheless I was nervous. Once we opened it I saw basically what I expected to see which was that everything is good but he need to work on reading and writing. This is 100% what I expected to see. He is doing much better with both reading and writing, but he still needs a lot of work. I was a little surprised to see that he is scared to be wrong, which leads to him not answering questions in class and looking for extra help. It seemed as if he looks for extra help from the teacher, but when she comes to help he knows the answers. She also noted that he gets really upset when he gets something wrong. We need to work on building this little boys confidence. Beyond that it was a very good first report card and hope that they are just as good in the future.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Missing my blogs and my bloggy friends

The Holidays have been busy and it feels like forever since I had time to sit and blog. For weeks it has seemed like every free moment was devoted to Christmas prep, Christmas decorations, Christmas cookies and the ongoing Christmas clean-up.  Don't get me wrong, we had a great Christmas/New Years week including a lot of time with family, a childrens museum trip with the boys and even a date night for mommy and daddy.

Now I am back to work (with a train commute that will give me some blog time) and back to my blogs :)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and are easing back to reality nicely.
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