Friday, March 23, 2012

Another Birthday??!!

A couple of weeks ago my oldest turned four years old.  I know I say it over and over again, but I can't believe how quickly these four years have gone by.  Recently I was looking at pictures of the day he was born and now here he is far from that tiny bundle I held in my arms that day.

Here he sits with little brother anxiously awaiting the "singing" candle; a family tradition my mother began that my husband will never let die!  The only thing better about this photo would be if they were looking at the camera.  I love how they're sitting together sharing the same chair.  Brothers and best friends!

Even though he isn't the birthday boy this picture was just too cute not to share.  The cupcakes apparently passed the taste test!

For months my son told me he wanted a baseball hat cake for his birthday.  Two days before the party he tells me he decided he wants a sword birthday cake instead.  Too bad kiddo I already bought the stuff for a baseball theme this year and your "frugal" mama (we won't say cheap, although it's totally true!) isn't about to go out and buy whatever it might take to make a sword cake.  There's always next year!

So here is my attempt at making a baseball hat cake.  I love making birthday cakes for my kid's birthdays but I am far from artistic and cakes require a little of that to turn out just right.  So mine are personalized with imperfections but that's what makes them special right?  So far my attempts have included a police car, airplane, lion, and frog.  But this cake was by far the easiest one I've ever made. 

For the cake I put 1 1/2 cake mixes in a 3 quart round oven safe bowl and added extra time to cook it all the way through.  Mine ended up baking up nice and flat without the usual semi rounded top that usually occurs on cakes that you have to cut off to make flat for decorating.  Not sure how that happened, but won't complain about something that makes my cake making attempts easier.  Cake cooled and removed from bowl and ta da, the beginings of a hat.  I baked the remaining 1/2 of the cake mix in an 8in round cake pan and used that for brim of the hat.  This unfortunately did have a rounded top that had to be cut flat, oh well you can't win them all.  I cut about half of it away to form the shape of the brim and much to my surprise and delight it fit perfectly around the rest of the cap.  Cover with frosting and a hat begins to appear.  I used red Twizzlers pull and peel pieces to make the stripes and red M & M's for the center of the hat and the letter E.  Easy as pie, only it was a cake! 

The cupcakes were a little more labor intensive, but still super easy. After they were frosted with white frosting I used more of the pull and peel pieces to make the seams of the baseball.  Even though it probably took longer than just using red frosting it was less intimidating to me.  Frosting and I are not friends when it comes to drawing straight even lines.  They always end up looking like they were made by a kindergardener; all wavy and thick on one end, thin on the other.  No offense to kindergardeners out there, who are probably much better at decorating cakes than I! 

The best part of all though was when my son, who had wanted a sword cake, saw what I had made and said, "Wow!  That's really cool!"  And for that son, I will make you another cake next year.   Maybe even a sword!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Because a Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart"

I've been thinking today about how thankful I am for the things I've been given in my life.  For those who know what kind of day this has actually been you may be surprised to read that.  But today my heart is not filled with sadness, but with joy.  I'm thankful for the opportunity I have to live in a country with heathcare that I can take advantage of.  I'm thankful for a husband who is employed and can care for our needs when so many families are without that.  I'm thankful for a God who sees me and hears my prayers.  I'm thankful for two healthy and wonderful children.  It's amazing to actually see them learning everyday.  Each day they discover something new, or master something they used to struggle with.  I see my almost 4 year old (only a few days left of being 3!!) sounding out words and starting to spell.  How did that happen so fast?   My nearly 2 year old (still have a couple months to go for that one at least!) putting together sentences and saying so many new words.  I watch him mimic everything his older brother does and love to see how they play and grow together.  How did I get blessed to have such awesome kids?  I  have a supportive and loving husband who cares for me more than I think I even realize sometimes.  He sacrifices his time, energy, and heart not only for our family but for others.  What better example could I have for my sons to look up to?  So today I say God is good.  I thank Him today for all He has given me.  And if I never have another thing, I have enough.  If I never have a bigger house, a newer car, more stuff, it will be enough.  I pray that in my heart I always know that the gift and sacrifice of Jesus and my relationship with him ins enough.

So many times we focus on the sadness we see in this world, and forget to look at the beauty that still remains.  This is a broken world, and will continue to be until Christ returns and makes it right again.  Until that day, I hold onto the knowledge that even though I may not see His face God is there.  He is a part of my life, and he cares for each of us idividually and knows us, even me.  So today I want to praise Him for He is worthy to be praised.  And as I do I hum this little Veggie Tales tune in my head and know the words are so very true...a thankful heart is a happy heart!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Origins of Grandma Salad

I mentioned today that I wanted to make some Grandma Salad, and had someone asked me if it was made with kleenex, peppermints and overpowering perfume.  I laughed.  Then I realized that Grandma Salad needs a little explaining.  Since getting too long winded on Facebook is frowned upon I figured I would use this handy dandy blog here to share my thoughts on Grandma Salad.

First of all let it be known that I am opposed to almost all forms of what I consider "midwestern jellowy-ish salads".  You know the type; the ones that use various combinations of jello, pudding, cool whip, cottage cheese, nuts, and various fruits and vegetables.  Oh and don't forget the marshmallows!  For all my midwestern friends who make or like these particular concoctions, and for those from anywhere else who also like these I know you are not alone.  I'm often in the minority when it comes to my opposition to such foods, although I honestly can't understand it.  FYI I have tried many of these salads over the years just to make sure I still don't like them...I don't.  But I don't want it to be said that I'm not giving food a chance.  Just for fun I looked up some jello salad recipes online and came up with such fabulous ones as these..."Cucumber Lime Salad" in which lime jello, mayonaise, and cucumbers are combined (gag!), or how about this delicious little number..."Green Olive and Lemon Jello Salad" where you put lemon jello, onions, green olives, mayo, and the all important cottage cheese all in the same bowl!! (seriously disgusting!)  These are the actual names of the recipes by the way...who would read those titles and think,  hmm that sounds good?  And what's with mixing mayonaise into everything?  I just don't get it.  I thought I should also add that I found these recipes under the title "POTLUCK FAVORITES".  What does that say about the other food being served at these potlucks if these things are favorite items?

But moving on to more important things like Grandma Salad.  Grandma Salad is one of those things that if I saw it at a potluck before I had tried it I wouldn't have touched it.  It looks like one of "those" salads, a salad a grandma would make.  Not my grandma of course, my grandma's culunary delights included Little Debbie's oatmeal cream pies and microwave mac 'n cheese.  My grandma wasn't a cook, but she was amazingly wonderful in many other ways.  Anyway, Grandma Salad as I began calling it, is actually a recipe from the old Church of Christ cookbook that my mom decided to try.  Which is surprising since I grew up in a house that remained mostly unscathed by such types of foods.  Anyway, she made it and I immediately told her something along the lines of..."Ick why did you make that?"  or something equally as kind.  She told me just to try it because it was really good.  After doing a thorough check to make sure no cottage cheese or vegetables were hiding anywhere (I draw the line and those two items mixed with pudding or jello) I decided to try it.  And to my surprise my mother was right.  Who knew that when you take vanilla pudding, cool whip, pineapple, fruit cocktail, mandarin oranges, buttermilk, and fudge stripe cookies and mix them together the result would be such deliciousness?!  I for one did not, but after one bite I was hooked.  And now it has become one of my "potluck favorites".  So now you know everything you ever wanted to know (and so much more!) about Grandma Salad.  Which I think is actually called Fudge Cookie Salad and was a recipe by Dianne Brockman.  I want to give credit where credit is due because it is seriously yummy and it's always gone at any of our church potlucks before the last person in line goes through!

Friday, March 2, 2012

School uniform: Not exactly...

As superintendant, principal, and teacher for my son's school I am lucky enough to choose our dress code.  I do not let him wear his pajamas, I want us to be dressed for school even if we are at home.  Although today I was in my sweats...not exactly professional, but we'll keep this between the three of us (the number of my readers and myself...hee hee) and hardly anyone will know.  But today this is what my son chose to wear.  Meet Robin Hood :)  No worries he still got all his work done in spite of his outfit!