Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine Crafty

I made the Valentines for Punk's kindergarten class and thought I would share here (if we are friends on FB you've already seen them).  Everything was made with the help of my new awesome toy I got for Christmas, my Silhouette Cameo.

Pile of Valentine Boxes for Punk's class.  Box file is from the Silhouette store, I used the "Print and Cut" feature on my Sil to allow me to personalize the boxes!

I love this little superhero I also got from the Silhouette store, I gave him red hair just like my little Punk!

Inside each box was a personalized cape for Punk's classmates (this alphabet is ALSO from the Sil store), the capes are from the Dollar Tree and I personalized them using heat transfer vinyl (green for the boys, raspberry for the girls).

Here is Punk modeling his cape!

He's thrilled....

Monday, October 28, 2013

What DOES the Fox Say?

Have you seen this viral video/internet sensation/total craziness?  My brother (Ryan Scott of Full Court Press Radio) suggested I check this out over a month ago and I kept forgetting, but I finally got to it this week...I watched it, then I called the kids in.  They LOVE should too.  What's better than some good clean foxy fun?  Now, go get your gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding on!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Suessical Party!!!

We threw the boys a joint birthday party in August (I know, their birthdays are in July, but Punk knew he got to go to school as soon as he turned 5 and there was just no way we could throw a party in July and deal with him asking if it was time to go to school yet for 6 weeks).  I'm just now getting the pictures put up...sorry.  I should note that my super awesome friend Chelsea from Chelsea Heap Photography did the photography (her sweet son was one of our guests as well)'s so awesome to have known Chelsea since she was just a little older than our boys are now and to see what an awesome talented woman she has grown into...okay, enough of that.

Knowing that this was the last year I was going to be able to pick the boys theme for their party and knowing that the rest of the parties I throw them are going to have to be super heroes and exclusively 'boy' stuff because my boys are really turning that corner into 'boys only' territory, I picked Dr. Seuss as the theme because I've been dying to throw a Dr. Seuss party for a couple of years.  I made crayon rolls and I Spy Bags again for the guest take aways.  We made a Lorax, decorated a bow tie (like The Cat In The Hat wears), we ate things like Oobleck Dip, Pulled Roast Beast, and Cold Who Hash.

My boys had fun and so did their guests!  We love throwing parties, I'm going to have to find some more excuses to do just that!

Punk at our "photo wall" with mommy made Truffela Trees.

All the pictures in our home where taken over by Dr. Seuss wisdom!

Bug concentrating very hard on making his bow tie "just so"!

Some of our great guests!

Punk working on his bow tie (blue OF COURSE!).

My photographer's cute son modeling his work of art!

These are the men of the party all cutting out pieces for our Lorax game...

...and cutting...

...and cutting!

Food table.

"Green Eggs and Ham" (that's green deviled eggs with a piece of crispy good!)

"Apples Up On Top Salad" (Snickers and apple salad)

"Oobleck Dip" (Spinach dip and a bounty of veggies)

"The Eye Salad" (That's frog eye salad, and I didn't make it, my awesome friend Autumn did and it's so good!)

"Go, (Hot) Dog, Go!" (hot dogs)

"Moose Juice"

"Moose Juice and Goose Juice"

Bug on the run!

Bug on a bike!

All that cutting the men did going to good use...

...the kids had a blast making a Lorax...

...well maybe not this kid ;)...

But look at the concentration on this one...

...and this one.

And awesome handmade work bench with tools from one of their awesome friends
(and that friend's mommy and daddy who are so creative!)


...and more presents.

Strawberry cupcakes with white chocolate cheesecake frosting (dyed blue)
Punk told me EXACTLY what he wanted...who am I to argue?!

Friday, May 3, 2013

What Makes You Beautiful

So, last Saturday Bobby and I did something I'm not sure I ever thought I would do...we chaperoned a church youth dance.  Seriously, as someone who grew up mostly avoiding chaperons at church dances I never suspected I would be in that position.  Anyway, we put on our dress clothes (did I mention it was church "Prom", seriously, who thinks up this stuff, I certainly didn't wear anything prom-y, but we did wear church clothes) and off we went.  We took a few minutes at the beginning of the dance to scope out places a couple could "hide" to make out (just in case...after all, I know where I was at that age) and then we started to watch the kids come in.  We didn't end up needing to have scoped out those places, either the kids we were chaperoning were much better than I was or they were just better at hiding...

I don't work in the Young Women's organization (I'm in Relief Society), but I know some of the young women in our ward pretty well because they babysit my boys for me.  I was so excited to see them at the dance.  They looked absolutely gorgeous, seriously, breathtaking, and they didn't have to show too much skin to look that way.  Seriously how beautiful are these girls?

And that boy?  He just turned 14 recently and this was his first dance.  I don't know him very well, but I always thought he was the shyer type...oh how wrong I was!  That kid danced pretty much every single slow dance and even got a phone number, FROM AN OLDER GIRL!  He sought out girls who were alone or hadn't danced and I'm sure he made the night for several girls who may not have been asked to dance if it hadn't been for him, what an awesome kid.  I hope that my boys are that sure of themselves and brave enough to dance every dance!

I have some observations from the dance, some things I thought about as we walked among those kids that night...

First was just how beautiful the girls DID look in their modest dresses and how I hope that my boys someday find girls who are confident enough in themselves to be that beautiful in their modesty.

Second, the geeky boys who dance too hard and have too little rhythm but obviously know their music (and know the best music, stuff that is older than them but timeless and amazing), they will someday soon be the cool kids even though they aren't now...I hope they know that.  In their early 20s when the girls start to care more about what you know and when they have grown all the way into their too big feet and they decide to cut their hair and when they've lost their braces they really will be the ones the girls like best and they will be the kind of cool then that matters and that lasts.

Third, I was familiar with almost all of the music they played at the dance, some of the music is stuff that was played at dances when I was a kid (the Electric Slide and Cotton-Eyed Joe are apparently timeless classics) and some of the music was newer.  The kids did dance, most of the kids spent most of the night dancing (there was of course a fair amount of standing around, but there was an impressive amount of dancing as well).  I was really struck by the song that was OBVIOUSLY the crowd favorite that night though.  I had heard the song before but didn't know it well, so I looked it up this week.  It was "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction.  I know, I'm old.  I mean, I know who One Direction is, but I couldn't have told you the name of any of their songs before this.  That night I was impressed that the boys were really singing the song (shamelessly in most cases) to the girls, they were enjoying it.  The girls were singing the song to each other.  And they really meant it.  It made me so happy to think that all of these young people were really TELLING each other that they ARE beautiful...and trust me THEY ARE!

As I was researching my third observation I found these two videos:

The quality of the dub on the first one is a little better, but I love the clips of talks from the General Authorities at the beginning of the second one (I got tears watching them both, I won't lie).

How awesome are these boys?  Right now I am raising boys, not girls, but I hope that when they are teenagers my boys aren't afraid to tell the girls how beautiful they are and I hope I am raising the kind of boys that can see beauty in ALL girls/women and that they are brave enough to see and openly appreciate REAL beauty in the girls around them and I hope that I have boys who are the kind of cool that matters and that lasts...even if they are geeks in the interim.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Sweetest Things

If you are a stay at home mom you know that some days are harder than others.  I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to stay home with my boys.  That said, there are days when I wish I could go to work for eight-nine hours a day and let someone else deal with the meltdowns, the messes, and the attitudes, today was NOT one of those days.  Today was one of those days that remind me WHY it is important that I am the one who is here with my kids and how very lucky I am.

We were watching Disney Jr. this morning (it's how we roll, yo) when Bug brought me a baby doll and a blanket, he motioned that he wanted me to wrap up the baby, which I did, then Bug climbed up on my lap and kissed the baby and said "nigh nigh ba-ba" (night night baby) several times over, he kissed me then patted my cheek, he touched the baby doll lovingly a few times, gave the baby a few more kisses, then decided he wanted to play and he got down.  A few minutes later he brought me Punks teddy bear and put the bear with the baby doll.  Bug gave the baby some more kisses and said something to the baby in his language.  It went on like that for about half an hour before Bug decided it was okay if I put the baby down on the couch.  My baby is getting so big and he has such a loving and sweet heart even if he's kind of a monster sometimes.

Bug put himself to bed early probably means that this will be a super long night with him, but that's beside the point.  Because Bug was in bed I got some very rare one on one time with Punk.  What did Punk want to do on this, Thanksgiving Eve, when I've been cooking for three days and will be cooking again in the morning?  He wanted to make peanut butter cookies (SO not on the menu), and how could I possibly say no to such a sweet boy with such a simple request?  So, we made peanut butter cookie dough and put it in the fridge to chill.  Punk then crawled up into my lap, gave me a giant hug, and told me (for about the fiftieth time today) that he loves me, and my heart melted into a big puddle of goo.

The house is still the typical mess it is after a day of two little boys playing hard.  I'm still tired from a long night of returning kids to their beds (a fun after effect from the three week gastroenteritis last month we still haven't gotten rid of).  I'm sure I'm in for a long night with the sleeping Bug.  Punk will likely give me attitude about going to bed in an hour.  

And I'm still one lucky lucky mommy.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Peppermint Marshmallows

Let me start out by saying that I kind of hate marshmallows.  Really, unless they are in cocoa (and I prefer whipped cream anyway) or in s'mores (there is no better substitute in s'mores) I stay far away from them.  I even prefer Scotcharoos (not made with marshmallows) to traditional Rice Krispie Treats (made with marshmallows).  So, why on earth would I learn to make marshmallows?  Well, really, it is because I am hoping that we will someday be able to throw a beautiful s'mores party for all of our friends and/or family (like the ones we've all seen on Pinterest) and how much more impressive and fun is a s'mores party with homemade fun flavored marshmallows?

I have been making marshmallows for a little over a year now.  I make them in all kinds of flavors, vanilla bean, chocolate, banana, orange cream, toasted coconut, apple, and peppermint.  You can make them in pretty much any flavor you can think of (and that you can get extract or flavoring oils in).

In case you've been living under a rock, hurricane Sandy is heading towards the east coast (where I happen to live right now), and bringing with her lots of wind and rain...and much cooler temperatures this coming week, so it's looking like hot cocoa weather and these peppermint marshmallows are excellent in hot cocoa. Plus, I was going through my pictures on my laptop the other day and Punk saw this picture:

Homemade peppermint marshmallows top hot chocolate on a stick.  Great for gift giving and super yummy.

He immediately asked if I would make him some "red square marshmallows".  I told him I would make them as soon as I could.  I then realized that I didn't have gelatin (which is strange, because I usually DO have it, but since we moved I hadn't picked any up yet).  Punk eats these out of hand, I love them in cocoa, it works out for both of us.

So, tonight I made yummy marshmallows and thought to myself when I taste tested them as I was putting them in the pan "Man, if people knew how easy and how yummy homemade marshmallows were, it would put Jet Puffed right out of business."

What you need:

A stand mixer with a whisk attachment (please don't try to do this with a hand mixer it will likely blow out your mixer).
A candy thermometer (again, don't do this without one, marshmallows are candy, they need to be cooked to a specific molten lava-esque temperature you can't guess at this)
A saucepan
9x13 pan
Cooking spray (I use regular Pam)

3 small envelopes of unflavored gelatin (I've never used flavored and, no, I wouldn't recommend it or try it)
1 cup of very cold water (divided)
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp kosher salt
flavorings of choice (for peppermint I use 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract)

"Marshmallow Dust"
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Empty your three envelopes of gelatin into the bottom of your stand mixer bowl.  Add 1/2 cup very cold water, stir together and set aside.  In a saucepan place 1/2 cup water, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, and 1/4 tsp salt, stir together and place over medium to medium-high heat.  Clip candy thermometer to side of saucepan.  Cook to 240° stirring occasionally.**

While you are waiting for the mixture to reach 240°:

Mix your corn starch and powdered sugar together (I call this "marshmallow dust" and just keep a container of it in my baking stuff).  Spray your 9x13 pan with cooking spray and coat with "marshmallow dust" (just put a few table spoons of the mixture into the pan and bump the pan around until your pan is coated then shake the rest out), you will need some of your marshmallow dust to coat the top and sides of your marshmallows after they are cut so don't use it all here!

Place your whisk attachment into your mixer.  Once your sugar has reached 240° turn your mixer on it's LOWEST SETTING and SLOWLY add your molten sugar mixture into your mixer with the gelatin (you won't get it all out, that is okay, don't try to get every drop, just pour it until it won't pour anymore, you don't want to risk touching this ish).  Once all of your sugar is in the bowl cover your mixer with a towel (so it doesn't splatter) and turn it up as high as it goes.  In a few minutes (my mixer takes about 5 minutes, but less powerful mixers can take longer, up to 15 minutes) you will have white, fluffy, luke warm, marshmallow yumminess.  When you have a white fluffy mixture you can add in your flavorings and any coloring you might want to use and mix them in using the mixer thoroughly.

Now you want to take a spatula sprayed with Pam and put your fluffy yummy marshmallows into the prepared pan.  You aren't going to get every bit out, it's okay, that's the part you just sacrifice, get what you can out and move on.  Once you have your mixture in the pan you want to wet your hands a little (yes YOUR HANDS they are often your best tool in the kitchen) and use them to smooth your marshmallows into the pan, if your hands stick they aren't quite wet enough.  Once you have the marshmallows smoothed out set them aside for about an hour.  Then you want to sprinkle the top of your marshmallows with marshmallow dust.

Wait at least four hours (I usually just wait overnight) then you can cut your marshmallows however you like. I am fond of just cutting mine into 1" squares using my pizza cutter, but you can use cookie cutters if you want to make fun shapes.†  After you have cut your marshmallows dust the cut sides with marshmallow dust to keep them from sticking.

These are NOT like store bought marshmallows, but they will last almost as long.  I've had them stay good in a ziplock bag for over 6 months.  They make a great addition to a cocoa gift for friends, neighbors, or co-workers.  And since you took all the time to make marshmallows don't feel bad giving store bought cocoa!

**240 degrees is MOLTEN HOT, please do not touch it, please do not let your children anywhere near it.  I do this when my kids are either in bed for the night or taking a nap, I just can't risk them grabbing this off the stove.

† If you use cookie cutters don't throw away the scraps, cut them into funky shaped mini marshmallows and dust them with marshmallow dust to use in your cocoa or let your kids eat them out of hand like I do!

Due to lots of requests for this recipe I'm going to post this blog before I take pictures of the marshmallows I made tonight, but I'll add in pictures tomorrow (or as soon as Sandy lets me!).

Punk is going to be so happy to see these in the morning!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fat Mints

I made these:

last weekend when I was asked to bring a "treat" for Relief Society.  I ended up getting three dozen more than I needed, so those were sent to work with Bobby on Monday.

A lot of cupcakes:

They are dark chocolate cupcakes (probably my favorite recipe I make, it's a great base cupcake for all kinds of yummy frostings, toppings, and fillings), with a creme de menthe Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, garnished with half a Keebler Grasshopper cookie.  They taste just like a cupcake version of the Girl Scouts' Thin Mints (thus "Fat Mints").

Never made a Swiss meringue buttercream before?  Think it sounds too complicated?  You are so wrong, it's an extremely forgiving frosting, it's very stable, can be flavored with anything (flavored oils like I used for these, extracts, fruit purees, nut butters, the sky is the limit), colors well (I didn't color these), keeps well, and pipes beautifully.

So here's the recipe for a standard Swiss meringue buttercream, try it today!

6.25 oz (by weight) egg whites (separate your own eggs, don't use the egg whites only in a carton) this is about 5 eggs
1 cup sugar (use the regular granulated stuff)
1 pinch salt
1 lbs unsalted butter room temperature

Put about an inch or two of water in the bottom of a saucepan (use one that allows you to use your stand up mixer bowl on top of it snugly as a make shift double boiler) and bring to a low boil, turn down to a simmer.  Place egg whites, sugar, and salt in your mixer bowl and place the bowl on top of your saucepan.  Whisking constantly bring mixture to 150-160 degrees.  YOU MUST WHISK CONSTANTLY or you will get scrambled eggs and that is not what you are looking for.  I brought my mixture to 155 degrees (some sources say 160 must be achieved for food safety, I had sources that said 150 was sufficient).  Once your temperature is achieved remove bowl from heat and put into your stand mixer.

Using WHISK attachment whisk egg white mixture on high to stiff peaks.  This should take at least 5 minutes, possibly longer (some say as long as 10 minutes).  At this point you want to make sure your meringue is not too warm, it should be room temperature, if it isn't, let it sit for a few minutes until it comes down to room temperature.  Switch from your whisk attachment to your paddle attachment and add in your softened butter one cube at a time (cube=quarter pound or 1/2 cup) while running your mixer at it's LOWEST SPEED, seriously, have a teeny bit of patience here and use the lowest speed, get all of your butter in there.  At this point your mixture is likely to go through several stages as the eggs and the butter emulsify to become pure yumminess.  First your mixture is likely to look soupy and loose, keep mixing.  Then it's likely to look curdled and yucky, KEEP MIXING.  This could take 10-15 minutes, just keep your mixer going on its lowest speed, soon you will get a smooth, creamy, light, lovely, yummy frosting.

Once you get the perfect fluffy frosting add in your flavoring.  Use whatever you like!  Just add your flavors slowly and taste until the flavor is perfect!  For my creme de menthe frosting I used about 2 tsp of my homemade vanilla extract and 21-28 drops of creme de menthe flavoring oil (oils are much stronger than extracts, if you are using them be super careful not to over do it).  I have also made a peanut butter version in the past that used 3/4 cup peanut butter.

This frosting can be kept in the fridge (well covered, you don't want it to pick up fridge funk flavors) for up to two weeks or frozen for a few months before use, just bring it to room temperature on the counter and re-mix with paddle attachment on low speed until it comes back to fluffy goodness before you use it.

I would not suggest using this frosting for any application that will be sitting in the sun for very long.  There is a high butter content in this and they will melt in the heat for too long although this frosting holds up fantastically at room temperature and this frosting SHOULD be eaten at room temperature.

Tell me what flavor Swiss meringue buttercream you would make and what cake/frosting flavor combination sounds yummy to you right now!

I'm thinking an apple spice cake with a caramel sauce and white chocolate frosting sounds divine, fall is in the air here for sure!