Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Mommyhood Year in Review

Here in pictures, I present the "Mommyhood Year in Review".

We've learned to swim, to waitress and to use the potty.  We've had doctor appointments (more than I can recall), testing, surgeries and medications.

We drove to Disney for the 1st time, ran races and celebrated birthdays.

With family, I believe the more the merrier, and the more the crazier.

Here is our very concise year in review:


Cold Stone Creamery contacts me to review their ice cream flavors for 2011.  They send a car.  We arrive in city and spend an hour in a penthouse eating ice cream.

I will forever love Cold Stone Creamery for appreciating my sincere and genuine love for ice cream.  And for trusting my expertise.


I begin my first official waitressing gig.  The girls are fun and the money is better than retail.  After six hours waiting tables, our evenings end with greasy food and money.  
We drive 19 hours to Disney for the first time.  Or, hubby drove 16 hours and I drove three.  I like to pitch in when necessary.

A very dear childhood friend, who also happens to be a phenomenal Dermatologist, uses me for a demo on Botox and Juvederm.

The clock turned back ten years for 9 short months.  It was fab.

A few local mommies created a running group.  Our first race was at the Bronx Zoo.  We left early in the morning and we ran for penguins. We had a three hour lunch afterward.

Hubby was thrilled.

Our little Moopa had corrective surgery on her eyes.  She was a trooper.  I wish I could say the same for myself.
On a happier note, our Gymnastics Queen won State Championships on the uneven bars.  On her 8th birthday.  It was pretty awesome.

Our oldest hit "double digits".  Ten is a big birthday for a little boy.

My Sports Fanatic and my Gymnastics Queen ran a five mile race.  The both finished with their tiny faces beaded in sweat and blisters on some toes.

I was very proud.
The week after the race, my youngest brother got married.

LLG, the resident maniac, learns to swim.  Parenting a child with no fear is wonderful in these instances.  In 90% of other instances parenting a child with no fear just causes mini heart attacks.

Hubby and I celebrate another anniversary.  Eleven fabulously fabulous years of wedded bliss.

Our Sports Fanatic earns back his quarterback position.  This taught him much about perseverance and hard work.

He also took a trip to watch the Chargers (his #1 team) play the Chiefs in Kansas City.  It was the trip of a lifetime for our football fanatic. 

I reconnected with Edward.  Breaking Dawn hit theaters and finally Edward and married.

We spend another Christmas together, celebrating our family and the real reason for the season.  Santa brought exactly what the munchkins asked for, and we once again give thanks for how blessed we are.

Happy 2012!  All the best for a Happy New Year!  Be safe!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Jammies and Ice Cream

For us, the pace slows after the holidays.  This week is a welcome break from the running around we do the other 51 weeks out of the year.

I let 75% of the mess stay where it is.  And I ignore it beautifully.

We stay up later and sleep in past 8am.  We order take out and rent movies.

We wear jammies and we eat ice cream.
It's pretty awesome to hide out from the world every once in awhile.
Sometimes we need to recharge the batteries in peace.

The hibernation in this house continues.  I may just hang here until Spring...

Happy Friday to everyone.  Hope it's as awesome as you are.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


This week, the munchkins are on winter break.

There is no school bus to chase down and no homework to complete.  Basketball games are on hiatus, and the gymnastics team only attends the day camp.  There are no practices to run to and no lunches to prepare.

This "nothing to do" week has me wanting to go nowhere.  The desire to hibernate is strong.



My bones are craving sweatpants and my tummy is craving pizza.  My days are spent cleaning, running laundry, "resting" my eyes while the munchkins play and clawing through Christmas mess.

Every few hours I accomplish something.  The time in between is for nothing-ness.

And it's lovely.

The White Elephant

This year, my family held our first annual "White Elephant" gift exchange.  It was fabulous.  And cheap.  And we laughed until our nostrils flared.

The rules of the swap are simple:

1.  Find and wrap anything in your home that you no longer want, need or have had hidden away for years because it was given to you and it's awful.

2.  Wrap this "White Elephant".  Wrap can be inviting, simple or downright ugly.

3.  Bring gift and set in pile with other White Elephant items.

4.  Gather family, and draw numbers.  Lowest number goes first.  This person selects and opens gift.  Everyone laughs because this item is most often quite unique.  Or atrocious.  Or both. 

This year featured:

Obscenely large framed photos, giant stuffed animals, heinous lamps, strange metal Indian sculptures and more.

5.  The next person in line then either steals the first person's gift, or selects a new one.  If you steal a gift,  then that person has to choose a new gift, or they can steal a different gift from someone else.

More laughter.

 Two very important rules:

  • Each item can only be stolen once per round.  Once an item is stolen, it can't be taken again until the next person is up to choose a gift.  So people can't just keep stealing the same item over and over again.
  • An item can only be stolen 3 times.  Once it has been stolen for a 3rd time it has reached its rightful owner.

6.  The deal with the "White Elephant" in our family is that every gift MUST be used/displayed/worn.  If you receive an ugly sweater, you better be wearing it to Easter.  If you went home with an owl ash tray, it better be front and center on your coffee table when I visit your house in two months.

Or if you opened Mellville, the founder of an old family business, he better be above your couch.
I highly recommend implementing a punishment if someone is not displaying their White Elephant prominently.  Punishments can be hosting a brunch, or paying for a round of drinks.

Either way, the game is a fabulous tradition.  It's fun and easy to play.  And people dig up some real "winners" when given the opportunity.

You also go home with a heck of a conversation piece.

Send out the bulk email now, and give everyone a year to comb their attic.

Mommyhood Footnote:  Hubby chose a small metal Indian figurine from 1948 which is on his desk.  I went home with a classy framed photo of several Easter Eggs dressed as punks with weapons.  Underneath them it reads, "This Easter beware.  The eggs have gone bad".

Both items are better than hanging Mellville.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Post Christmas List

1.  On Christmas morning, I won $500 on a scratch off lottery ticket Hubby put in my stocking. 

We are officially now funded to take a spring vacation.  I would like to personally thank the New Jersey Lottery.
image via google

2.  This morning I braved the deal hungry crowds to purchase marked down Christmas decor at Target.  My munchkins voiced their displeasure concerning our lack of lit reindeer in the yard this Christmas. 
 Image courtesy of google

I settled on a four foot lit snowman sign that reads "Let it Snow". 

Next year we will still be lit reindeer-less.

3.  There are several piles of gifts and garbage scattered throughout our home.  This week I am determined to get the house in order before the clutter drives me nutty.

It's a short drive.
 This is not my house.  Image courtesy of google.  Aren't the floors lovely?

4.  I am sending Hubby to the store to purchase screws to hang shelves.  I'm fairly certain this is not what he envisioned when he imagined his day off.  I can't say for sure what is the lesser of two evils: me versus the office. 

It's still up for debate.

5.  With munchkins still in pajamas, crumbs and wrapping paper scattered across the floors, I shall sign off and make myself productive.

Hope yours was merry! 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Rambling

I am currently looking at my kitchen table, which is peppered with groceries I need for the coming days.  The contents include items such a shells (for the homemade macaroni and cheese), vodka sauce (for dinner tonight), chocolate chips (because I am always baking) and red sprinkles from the Bakery Department (for my next 5 bowls of ice cream).

My dishwasher is running and there are crumbs on my floor.  Neither of those things is news in this house.

I have approximately 70 gifts to wrap tucked away in my basement.  Don't tell anyone. 

Before you cry for me regarding the above statement, I shall rephrase: I have about 10 gifts to wrap and Hubby has 60.

The longstanding rule in this house is "I buy it, YOU wrap it".  Works like a charm.  It's a highly recommended system.

I have more laundry than I care to admit waiting for me in the basement.  I avoid this job because my basement is the temperature of my fridge.  I also have to carry laundry up two flights of stairs if I want it in a timely manner.  If there are no time constraints on clean laundry, and all munchkins have clean underwear, I stack the baskets as high as possible and wait for Hubby to carry them upstairs.

Hubby is fabulous.

Before I start laundry I have to adjust the outside Christmas decor (dang wind) and fix a fuse. 

Is it too late to ask Santa for updated electric?  

All the while, as I continue about my day, I shall be listening to my Christmas music and snacking on my hundreds of baked goods.

Tis' the season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Evolution of Tiny Cookie Makers

Every Christmas the munchkins make cookies.  Or, I make cookies and the munchkins use cookie cutters.  And icing.  And sugar.  And sprinkles.  And sugar.

You get the idea.

While my cookies have kept the same look and consistency over the years, my munchkins have not.  If I wasn't delirious from fudge making and late night wrapping I would cry.

But my eyes are too tired.

Here, in pictures, is the evolution of my very tiny, very dedicated, cookie makers.

Sniff. Sniff. 

Glad to see my cookie cutters have withstood the test of time.
Happy December 21st!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Crackers: Different, Delicious and Easy

This week is crunch time (no cracker pun intended).  People are everywhere, scurrying to finish shopping and stock their kitchens. 

Since I am a longstanding member of the "forgot I need a gift for (insert name here) and it's 11pm" club, I have devised several easy and quick gift options.

My latest and greatest is the chocolate dipped cracker, holiday style.
All you need is chocolate morsels, sprinkles and a few fresh crackers (preferably round, butter style such as Ritz). 

Melt chocolate in microwave (30 second intervals, stirring after each one), drop a teaspoonful on one cracker, top with another.  Roll chocolate edges in holiday sprinkles. 

Set aside for at least and hour for chocolate to set.

While chocolate is setting, grab a decorative tin, and line with wax paper.  Add crackers, and if you have them, Hershey Kisses are an easy and cute addition. 

Another great packaging options is a jelly jar, tied with holiday ribbon.

These little 'fellas are sweet and salty.  They are easy and different.  And they are affordable. 


Monday, December 19, 2011

Amazon: Last Minute Shopping Ideas

Today, while on Amazon, I saw it is the last day to order for Christmas with "free super saver shipping". 

Love Amazon, and I LOVE free shipping.  Why go to the store when you can ship to home for free? 

Here are my current picks for boys.  I base this on my ten year old and six year old.  They love video games, sports, play figures and anything "boy".  Everything below we currently have, or Santa's workshop is hopefully busy assembling it for Christmas delivery.

Playmakers: Football figures for little fans everywhere

Madden 12: Who doesn't love Madden?

FIFA Soccer 12: My son doesn't even play soccer and he wants this game

Imaginext Samurai Castle: Imagination heaven

GeoTrax Batcave: Great to line up figures, have them ride on the train, and run them over

For girls, I could shop forever.  I already posted Just Dance 3, which my Gymnastics Queen is begging for.  I can't blame her, it's a real hootenanny.

For all day imagination play, she has decided the elves MUST make the Loving Family Christmas House.  With working lights and accessories galore, I may join her on the floor if Santa brings this one.

My Moopa is a Strawberry Shortcake fan.  An oldie but a goodie.

For Hubby?  And men everywhere?  I haven't a clue.  If I could buy toys all day every day I would.  They are so much more exciting than ties, travel coffee mugs and cell phone accessories.

Happy shopping to all.  I feel as though I blinked and its December 19th.  Scary stuff.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Dog Shelter

This past weekend we visited a local "no kill" dog shelter.  My daughter's gymnastics school held a fundraising meet for the shelter, utilizing all entrance fees to purchase new dog beds for the cages.

After competing in the meet, the girls were invited to the shelter.  Each girl was asked to bring a new blanket to give to one of the shelter dogs.

It was their little canine Christmas.

When the girls arrived at the shelter they chose a picture from a basket.  The picture was of one of the dozens of dogs living in the shelter.  Attached was a candy cane "thank you" from the dog and the dog's name.

My daughter chose "Dozer".
We waited in a small office area until our group was brought back to the kennels by one of the volunteers. The girls were eager, and their smiles were bright.

The room smelled and it was rather cold.  The girls didn't notice and if they did they didn't care.   

Kids are miraculous, loving human beings who have a genuine gift of seeing the bigger picture.  Their hearts are pure and ready to help anyone or anything in need.

No smell or amount of mushy dog poop could damper their excitement.
Some of the dogs in the shelter are kept in a separate area because they are not "sociable".  They have signs on their cages that indicate they are not to be around people.

Or other animals.

"Dozer" was one of those dogs.  We were able to meet him from afar and he was definitely strong.  And paranoid.  He barked uncontrollably and it wasn't his fault.  He was one of the many pitbulls who would most likely remain in that shelter for a very long time.

Maybe forever.

Our shelter visit has forever changed my Gymnastics Queen.  She has always been an animal lover, but now she is determined to be an "animal saver". 

We brought those dogs blankets, but they brought us so much more.  And this Christmas, I wish them all a "forever family". 

Mommyhood Footnote: The shelter is completely non-profit, and depends 100% on volunteers.  Support "no kill" shelters in your area, because they most definitely need the assistance.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dance Club

A few months ago, my Sports Fanatic brought a permission slip home to join the Dance Club.  His interest in joining caught me by surprise. 

I was concerned because in my "heyday", a Dance Club screamed "girl".  It was the kind of club myself and my chatty Kathy girlfriends would join.  And I can guarantee that not one boy would be in the club with us. 

Well, maybe one or two. 

Before I signed the slip, I inquired about this club.  I wanted to make certain some of his friends were joining since it was twice a week after school.  I wasn't about to listen to complaints about going to club two weeks into his commitment.

He assured me that he had friends joining this club.  I took his word for it and signed his permission slip.

For the next several weeks Hubby was on Dance Club pickup Mondays and Wednesdays.  We heard bits and pieces about his routine, but never saw much.

He was much too embarrassed to break into dance in our living room. 

All we knew was that he loved his afternoons at Dance Club, and he never once complained.  He told me on more than one occasion that he was thrilled he joined.  And that was all I needed to know.

This afternoon, after weeks of extended practices and questions from us, we packed into the family car and drove to his school.  It was "performance day".  I was nervous for him, a dance performance is certainly not a football game.  He had never performed for anyone unless we count his mandatory third grade holiday concert.

I was ready for this routine to be rather interesting.

But what we saw was an entertaining, well choreographed hip hop routine that had us smiling from ear to ear.  And it was snazzy to see that the boys outnumbered the girls, and those stinkers had some "moves". 

Times sure have changed since I was in school.  The stiff side rocking slow dance may just be a thing of the past.

It takes some guts to branch out and try something new, and many of these kids (boys especially) had never tried an organized dance class.  Watching them perform today was certainly the highlight of my week. 

This Mama left that gymnasium very proud of all the kids.  They did "Dynamite"!

Two Steps Forward...One Step Backward...

Every year, right around this time, I feel as though I am constantly moving two steps forward and one backward.  I make some shopping progress, and then either rethink what I am giving or I find a better deal elsewhere.

For every trip I make I end up returning at least one item I bring home.  This is the exact reason I make every effort to have what I need by now.

I have a week left to take inventory and make returns.

It is a very good thing I love to be out and about.  I enjoy the music and the scenery.

I'm a social little bird with a very limited budget.  Hence the need to return what isn't necessary and re-buy at items at better prices.

But on every trip I make my way past a Starbucks and arm myself with a Venti Frappuccino.

It's good for the engine.

Wishing everyone a stress-free week ahead.  Mine will be filled with Christmas wrapping and returning, and a heavy dose of caffeine.
In the words of Tom Petty, "I hope you have a good one, I hope momma gets her shoppin' done.
And it's a Christmas all over again..."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oh Wednesday...

Today was a half day at school.  This resulted in my up at 7:30am, dressed and showered by 8:30am morning.

Time for errands was limited and there were many errands to run.  There still are many errands to run.  The hustle and bustle of Christmas is alive and well over here in Mommyhood.

While shopping is on track, I have not wrapped a thing.  I prefer to wait until Christmas Eve for all the gifts that are tucked away, because to lug them all out and re-hide them all is too much work.

It's much easier to plop them all in front of Hubby Christmas Eve.  He sets his station with wrapping paper, tape, a good Christmas movie and cold beer and wraps until his fingers are sore.

I call this the "I buy it all, you wrap it all" system.  It serves us well.

I will take care of all the adult gifts that need presentable wrapping and ribbons this week.

With 10 days to go, our Christmas music is on, the tree is lit and the oven is pumpin' out goodies every twenty four hours or so.

I hope Santa's reindeer are resting up, because the munchkins are ready.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Snow Angel

I just found this picture of my Sports Fanatic while browsing my online photo gallery.
It's an oldie but a goodie.

I remember taking it, it was over five years ago.  We lived in Pennsylvania, and my days were much longer than they are now.

I had more time, because I had less munchkins.  They were involved in nothing but preschool.  If memory serves (it sometimes doesn't) I had the munchkins in bed by 7:30 and I watched a minimum of three shows every night.

And there was always a hefty ice cream on my lap.

These days my memory serves just about nothing and I am lucky if my eyeballs catch a little of my DVR before they are staring at the back of my eyelids.

Tis' the season.  And I love every exhausting minute of it.

Have a good one everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dollar Store Christmas

Every year, I take my munchkins to the Dollar Store to do their Christmas Shopping.  While I realize a dollar store is no place to find quality gifts, it is a place they can shop without me constantly over their shoulder checking prices.  They have the freedom to choose what they like, for who they like.

If they want to buy something for the mailman, they have my blessing.  I do not, if at all possible, sway them in any which direction on what to buy.

I silently follow them, always amused, as they peruse each aisle in search of that "most perfect" Christmas gift.  They fill their little shopping baskets with goodies for just about every person they know.

Luckily for me my kids don't know too many people.

Once all gifts have been thoughtfully and carefully selected, we set aside an evening for them to wrap their own gifts.  I set out cheap wrapping paper and stick on bows.  We play Christmas music.  They cut and tape until their tiny little hearts are content.

Every gift they give is completely from them.

If Hubby is to receive a pen that reads "#1 Uncle", wrapped almost entirely in Scotch Tape, then that is what he will receive.

This method of gift giving makes for a very interesting Christmas Eve.  Before bed, the munchkins set their gifts under the tree and walk every self-wrapped present to its recipient. Over the years we have unwrapped rocks, plastic flowers, whistles, stuffed animals, keychains, notepads, pens, hair clips and several gifts of the homemade variety.

And they are some of the most cherished gifts ever given in our home.
Christmas is about giving.  And about remembering those you love. 

Our "Dollar Store Christmas" allows my munchkins to do just that.  On their own terms.

Happy Monday!

My Girls

Loving.  Funny.  Temperamental.  Beautiful.  
Smart.  Too smart.  Dainty.  Stubborn.  
Emotional.  Active.  Thoughtful. 
Sweet.  Friendly.  Outgoing.
Inquisitive.  Clever.

These girls are pure sunshine on a rainy day.  And I'm so blessed to have them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Lost Tooth and a Little Perspective

I remember when my Sports Fanatic had his first loose tooth.  He was late to the game, he had no "wigglers" until the summer after first grade.

This is tough for a kid.  It's no fun to hear about Tooth Fairy visits from classmates.  And to see teeth popping out at school.

This was also tough for me.  I was ready for that Tooth Fairy visit.  I was an impatient mommy ready to take on another important role.

I was so impatient I traumatized him asking him to "see" his tooth every few days.

He was no dummy.  He knew "see" meant "wiggle".  And he would run at the very mention of his loose tooth.

He imagined losing this tooth would be scary, and painful.  He had no idea what it would feel like.  And my obsession with him losing it made the anxiety worse. 

Finally one day, the tooth had gotten so loose it was twisted backward. He ran to me crying.  He was scared, and I promised him I would fix it.  I told him I would gently twist his tooth straight again.

"You (sob sob) proooomiiissse????"


I gently turned the tooth to "right" it and it fell into my palm.

Now, my son was still squirming and holding back tears, fists clenched, waiting for pain.  Or to hear that the tooth was "right" again.  He peeked his eye open and asked if I was finished.

I told him his tooth was in my hands. 

Minutes later he was squealing with delight, excited he would finally have a visit from the coveted Tooth Fairy.

That day was three and a half years ago.  And since then we have experienced several lost teeth.  At least 16, maybe more.  The obsession to wiggle teeth is now far behind me.

All my energy goes into making sure they are brushed.  

Two weeks ago, LLG ran to me and announced he had his first loose tooth.  I asked to wiggle his tooth for the sole purpose of gauging how much prep time the Tooth Fairy had before her next visit.

The tooth was loose, but experience in the matter told me the fairy had a minimum of two weeks to prepare.

And today, that tooth fell out when LLG was eating carrots.  He didn't even know it.  We found it on the table, right next to the carrot bowl.

Naturally, there was much excitement all day surrounding the "lost tooth".  We read the Tooth Fairy book, and the tooth is snug in place awaiting its departure.

I realized that my little guy never had a lick of anxiety about losing his tooth.  There were no tears.  There was no running from anyone in fear they would yank out his tooth. 

He lost his tooth and he was nothing but ecstatic.  His memories will be happy and painless.

I've learned those teeth fall out when they are good and ready.

And as with everything, it's easier to leave well enough alone.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Teacher Gift Idea

My list of teachers, bus drivers, secretaries and teacher assistants rapidly expands by the year.  As my munchkins grow, another one enters school or the bus route changes.

Then there is the school nurse who may as well be a close personal friend.

Last year, I wrote a post detailing my choice for teacher gifts. Since it is only December 7th, and my teacher gifts are not yet prepared, I am re-posting from last year.

While gift cards are always an excellent choice, (and Mommyhood recommended as long as they are cleverly packaged) last year I gave very meaningful gifts that were different from the norm. 

They are also extremely affordable.  Always a plus.

If you teach any of my children stop reading now.  This will ruin one of the 25 gifts you will receive this holiday season.

 I'm 99.9% certain I didn't need to write that forewarning.

This year, I continued on my quest to give teacher gifts that were useful.  I can only imagine how much stuff teachers accumulate. If they have 25 students, that's 100 gifts every four years.

That's a lot of candles.

This is why I struggle with the teacher gift shopping.  I have given the almighty gift card.  Teachers must sing to the heavens when they open that little sucker. 

This year, to change things up, I went a different route.
Samaritan's Purse

I gave something that wouldn't take up space.  And it wasn't a gift card.

I gave the gift of helping to teach a child to read.  A donation in their honor*.  How perfect, the teachers are helping children to read and they don't have to teach them.  It's like giving a paid vacation.

And even though I was loving my gift, I couldn't stay away from a little "stuff" to go with it.

I figured hand soap is always a good bet with all the germs floating around those classrooms.  And chocolates are a good bet with all the chaos floating around those classrooms.  And once used, you throw them out.  They disappear.  I LOVE when my munchkins get fun gifts that disappear.

Like a craft set.  Craft one night and it's gone.  Poof!

To view the online Samaritan's Purse catalog, click HERE. 

A Wednesday List

1.  I have had no voice since Monday.  I spend my days alternating between a soft whisper and a hoarse, crackly man voice.

Work tonight should be interesting.

"(throat clear) Would (crackle) you like (hoarse) the soup or salad? It (whisper) comes with the meal?"

2.  I decided last night I would spend my morning cleaning my floors.  All the floors.  I am currently thinking of better things to do.

3.  LLG is on the couch behind me.  I woke up last night to the symphony of him hacking up his lungs.  He slept in and I'm still teetering with the idea of sending him to school.

My evaluation of him is still in progress.

4.  Moopa just ran to me that she needed to "Peeeee peeeeeeee in da potttttyyyyyyy!!!" 

I took a small blog posting hiatus and ran her to the potty.  It was a roaring success.

I can't decide if this makes me happy or sad.  With my other munchkins there was no waffling once a pee went in the potty.  You were handed underpants and wished good luck. 

With Moopa, I have been delaying the cold turkey approach.  I am having flashbacks of public restrooms and a toddler potty in the trunk.  It's enough to buy another pack of diapers every time I go to Target.

5.  Have a fabulous Wednesday.  The weekend is 'round the corner.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

Tuck this recipe away for safe keeping.  One day you will need a decadent dessert for a holiday party or to serve a killer brunch for overnight guests.

You will need something different and delicious to bring to Christmas dinner.

When any of the above occurs, take out this recipe and dance the jig.  You will be dancing and singing my praises as you prepare this coffee cake.

This cake is easy.  It is made with cake mix.  It is also nothing short of awesome.


Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

  • 1 (18.25 oz) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.  Grease bundt cake pan well and set aside.

Blend cake mix, sour cream, eggs and oil.  Mix well, on medium speed about 2 minutes.

Spread 1/2 batter into pan.

In small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.  Gently sprinkle over batter in pan.  Spread remaining cake mixture on top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes, turn cake pan upside down and gently tap bottom to remove cake.  Prepare icing and pour over warm cake.

Serve warm.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Amazon: Great Gift Ideas for Kids

While cruising Amazon, I stumbled upon a few pretty awesome deals.  Some of these items are on the wish lists for this year, some I have bought in years past. 

Current "Wish List" favorites:

The Gymnastics Queen spent a few hours playing this video game while over a friend's house.  She has been begging for it ever since.  Great deal on it this week, I may just pull the trigger....

My Gymnastics Queen (who is 8) and LLG (who is 6) spend hours playing with these precious little "critters".  They build towns.  They send them on vacations.  They set up houses and schools.  While there are imitation animals now available for less money, the original "Calico Critters" are well made and built to last. 

Another reason to splurge?  My munchkins have been playing with these little animals for over four years.

My Sports Fanatic lives, breathes and sleeps football.  The past few years I have purchased lengthy football records books with stories and information.  He is much more eager to sit and read when a football book is in hand.

Need to make a "book"more exciting?  I just found this football book loaded with activities.

Another "Mommyhood" favorite for boys?  Baseball Guys, Football guys, Hockey Guys...

For the Moopa?  We love anything to keep her busy (and quiet).  These little "lacing" kits are perfect for tiny hands.

Happy Shopping everyone!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chocolate Pretzel Wreath

Over the weekend I decided to try something different with my standard chocolate covered pretzels.

Rather than dip them and set them out in a bowl, I layered them to make a "wreath".  I added holiday M&M's and some colored sprinkles, and set my masterpiece out of toddler reach for the chocolate to set.

I learned my lesson with the Rudolph Cupcakes last week.

The pretzel wreath was festive yet extremely easy to make.  And by the end of the night only a few pieces remained.

Chocolate Pretzel Wreath

1 bag bite sized pretzels 
1 11.5 oz bag milk chocolate chips
Holiday M&M's (if desired, any flavor)
Sprinkles (if desired)

Place chocolate in heavy glass, microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high, in 30 second intervals.  Stir after each interval.

When chocolate is smooth, set aside.

Line working surface with wax paper.  Dip pretzels in chocolate, arranging them in a circle.  I used a large dinner plate as my guide.

Once wreath is complete, decorate with chocolate candies, sprinkles or anything else your heart desires.  When chocolate and pretzels are involved, the possibilities are endless.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What I Know

For as long as I can remember, I have been a big fan of Christmas.  It's not the gifts, it's not even Christmas Day itself.  It's the entire season leading up the end of December.  There is a magic in the air that is absent the other eleven months of the year.

People are kinder.

They are more patient.

They are more generous and more willing to help a stranger.

The holidays are a social time.  December is filled with outings and parties.  There are cookie swaps and drinks after work.

Being around the people we love warms us.  It makes us better people.

There is a general sense of gratitude this time of year that fills the air.  Tips are better and local shops are supported.  That extra $1 for the salvation army outside the supermarket is as routine as getting dressed.

I love Christmas because the world remembers to be kind. 

This holiday season, enjoy the shopping, and marvel at the holiday decor.  Watch corny television specials and make cookies with your kids.

Reach out to those in need, and comfort loved ones who need the support.

Remember to slow down and smell the holiday roses.  The world is a pretty magical place when you do.