Tag: dessert

Summer Lovin’!

Had us a blaaaast!

Summer Break has officially started for us! Woo hoo! We are fully immersed in it now!

Last week was very busy for us. We went with my in-laws to a small, little theme park for the day.

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Boy was it hot! The boys (and us adults!) had a great time. By the end of the day, the boys started melting down…and playing ALL over the floor of the picture pick-up place. We became THAT family. :/

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Oh well. At least they were occupied. It was a great day! We had so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa. The next day was Bigs’ last day of preschool for the 3 year olds. It was a great day for him. He had so much fun and I know he will miss his friends and teacher.

That same evening was his little graduation. After five minutes of singing their sweet songs (“Wherever I go, God goes” and “Doers of the Word” – stinkin’ CUTE!!!), it was over. He’ll officially be in VPK next year. Sniff. Growing up too fast, I tell you!

On Friday, we had a playdate with most of his classmates. We went to a Splash Pad. It was a very hot day, so the Splash Pad was a welcome treat. Bigs had SO much fun with his friends, splashing all around. Smalls, on the other hand, did not enjoy it at all. He was scared. I’m sure he’ll enjoy it more as he gets older. Afterwards, we took all the kids to a frozen yogurt place. Oh yum! I got no-sugar added for the boys, since it was close to nap time.

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I let the boys have sprinkles (duh). I had a mix of a lot of flavors and some fruit and juice-balls as toppings. It was refreshing. What a great way to end the year!

That night, we took the boys to a steakhouse to celebrate Bigs’ graduation.

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The boys got cheeseburgers and fries (their favorites).

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My meal came with a delicious salad. It was so good. I love when restaurants make their ranch dressing in House.

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My Medium steak was perfect, and my loaded baked potato was filling.

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My husband’s burger (which he ate without the bun) was just delicious.

We celebrated with dessert:

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A trio of chocolate cake, apple crisp, and cheesecake. Yummo.

What a great way to celebrate my baby going into his next phase of life.

On Saturday, my husband put up a hammock in our backyard. We also grilled out and I made some sides.

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I made the world’s easiest baked beans.

Baked Beans:

1 1/4 C chopped onion

3/4 C green bell pepper (I had red, yellow, and orange)

2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 C ketchup

1/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C maple syrup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

2 t liquid smoke

2 t mustard

1 can – red beans, drained and rinsed

1 can – Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

Sautee the veggies in the butter. Once they are soft, add the other ingredients up to the beans. Mix well. Add beans and simmer for 15 minutes.

DELICIOUS!

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For a fun dessert, I made banana ice cream. The day before, I’d peeled and sliced 3 or 4 bananas, and then froze them. To make the ice cream, place the frozen bananas in the food processor and add milk (I used vanilla almond milk) and process until creamy.

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It was a hit and the only sugar that was in it was from the almond milk. Fantastic.

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It was a fun day filled with homemade (healthy!) ice cream, good food, and pool time!

On Sunday, we went to a pool/birthday party! I didn’t get any pictures because Husband had to work and I was wrangling the boys by myself. We had so much fun though. They stayed in the pool for about four hours! They only came out to eat delicious hamburgers and hot dogs, and a cake made to look like the American flag! So fun!

On Monday, I’d heard that Wendy’s was giving out free Waffle Cone Frosties. Yes please!

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I let my boys have frosties for dinner. Sue me. I should be sued. It turned into an awful night because they were so ridiculously hyped up. But it was fun at the time.

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(PS I’ve been jogging almost everyday with my boys – it’s been great!)

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I love how Smalls eats his ice cream cones…like there’s no tomorrow. That’s how he does life too. All in, this kid! <3

My Bigs is a bit more careful. 🙂

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He likes to savor his special treats…so much so that it starts melting all over the place! I can appreciate his method though. He’s my sweet, special boy!

The crazy, wild, me-pulling-my-own-hair-out night was worth it for these special memories. I will never forget the one time when my family went to Washington DC on a vacation when I was in elementary school. My parents let us eat ice cream for dinner and we went to a candy shop for dessert. It only happened once in my life, but it was so fun and so special that I remember it so many years later. I want those special, fun memories for my own children.

I’ve made a lot of great food lately, too! More successes than failures this week – woo-hoo!

Today, my bestie since kindergarten came over with her daughter. I just love love love seeing them. I miss my best friend. We’ve lived apart (grew up in the same town) most of our adult life, but every time we get together, it’s like the last time we saw each other. And we talk every day too. She’s so special. Anyways, I made a salad today, for us, that I knew she’d love. And I loved it too! A friend from my church group gave me the recipe and I altered it a little, but only because I didn’t have all the ingredients.

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Seven Layer Salad:

Romaine lettuce

Red onion

Frozen peas

Dressing (mayo, mustard, S&P, sugar, malt vinegar)

Bacon

Celery

Cheddar Cheese

**I added red/yellow/orange bell pepper, added onion powder to the dressing since I didn’t have onions, and I also used red wine vinegar since I couldn’t find malt at Target**

This recipe is delicious! I can’t wait to try it the “real” way.

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We ate the whole thing (I used an entire head of romaine lettuce)!

Speaking of salads, they are still going strong in our house – the produce has been great!

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I also made a delicious dinner tonight – roasted chicken and roasties:

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It came out delicious.

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I served it with seasoned corn, nectarines, and raspberries.

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Bigs loved the potatoes (which he normally doesn’t) and Smalls ate almost the entire pot of corn (which he’s never done). Serious success!

I also made GF brownies for my husband. I had to eat a square though, for review purposes.

Obviously.

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I used Aldi’s GF brownie mix. I used coconut oil for the fat content, so they came out with a ridiculously yummy coco-nutty flavor. I enjoyed my little slice and my Hubs loved it too!

YAY for successful meals! It doesn’t always happen!

So glad to be back on track with blogging. I miss it when things get too busy.

Hope you all are doing well! More summer fun and recipes tomorrow!

Kristin

Spring has Sprung!

It’s still Spring Break here and we’ve been staying quite busy! The weather has been gorgeous (save for one day where it seemed like we were in a hurricane) – clear skies, white fluffy clouds some days, picture-perfect blue backdrops everyday, chilly mornings that burn off to warm, sunny, lovely spring days.

Spring Break actually started last week, after Bigs got out of school. We had breakfast for dinner that night. I made a baked oatmeal casserole.

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I based my recipe loosely on this one:

http://www.aaronandyolanda.com/2013/07/baked-oatmeal-casserole.html

Instead of two cups of milk, I did one cup of coconut milk and a cup of pumpkin puree. I only added a few chocolate chips. I also didn’t add nuts or fruit of any kind. So it’s basically nothing like that recipe. And it of course didn’t turn out like that recipe (what did I expect!).

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It was alright. The oats didn’t get soaked with the pumpkin custard like I thought they would, so there was a separation of sorts. Next time, maybe I’ll have all the right ingredients and I can make it the right way. 🙂

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I served it with scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and sausages. It did the trick (if trick = filling our tummies).

The next day was GORGEOUS! We went to a park play date.

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Smalls was able to keep up with the big kids this time.

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And Big Brother took the time to play with him.

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I love to see them playing nicely together. 🙂

I gave Smalls a wee little apple and he carried that thing around while playing. He dropped it and still clutched it tightly. This is what I found him holding later on.

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The next day was Pancake Saturday – not to ever be missed in our house! It should be renamed Pancake and Breakfast Meat Saturdays.

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By this time, I’d run out of eggs (running out of ingredients is a key theme in my life, apparently). I substituted applesauce for the missing eggs. The result was an incredibly creamy, custard-like inside. I also added loads of vanilla and vanilla bean paste, and some caramel extract that I found at Wally-World (Walmart). I thought they were just delicious.

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They came out fluffy and golden. So good. Seriously. I might be using the applesauce trick again. I also might HAVE to, as I never seem to have everything I need.

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Oh, pancakes.

After breaky, we went to a local Farmer’s Market/Petting Farm. It’s newly opened and we’ve been wanting to try it out.

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Bigs insisted (and I am not using that term lightly) on wearing his overalls and boots.

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Kind of adorable though.

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We saw all kinds of farm animals. Bigs went up to the chicken coop and squatted down and said to them, “Hey Chickens! Why did you cross the road?!” My husband and I were beside ourselves with laughter!

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From there, we went to the food trucks and market side. We ate an okay lunch of hot dogs.

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And followed that up with a huge cup of the most refreshing, gorgeous, delicious fruit ever. I think it tasted even more delicious after that greasy, fried lunch.

We also ran into two different families we know! It was a great day.

When we got home, there was still some time before nap, so the boys did their “yard work”.

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They earn their keep, I tell you.

On Sunday night, some of our best friends, who have moved far away, came back because of work and we got to visit. We went on a date night with several of our couple friends. It was just wonderful seeing them. It is terribly sad when one of your best friends moves away, but it makes you treasure the time you have with them, when you see them again.

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My husband ordered the best red wine I’ve ever had – Jam Jar! SO GOOD! I will have to get that one next time. I’m not much of a red wine drinker, unless it’s sweet, which Jam Jar was.

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We had a minted edamame hummus and roasted red pepper hummus with lavosh crackers, as an appetizer. We also tasted our friends’ pesto chicken flat bread.

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After we toasted to our wonderful friendships…

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…we dug into our meals. My husband ordered the scallops (did not get a good picture) and they were divine. I ordered the winter vegetarian sampling.

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This plate changes seasonally. I love it. This time, there was a stuffed mushroom, some roasted beets, broccolini, asparagus, and peppers, along with a veggie stuffed taco, and some tofu with mango chutney.

This restaurant is famous for its small desserts. I can’t ever choose one.

Oink.

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I chose the chocolate peanut butter mousse (um, SO good) and the cannoli (cannoli cream, chocolate chips, raspberry sauce, cannoli shell).

I can’t even.

I am still dreaming about that cannoli cream. Is that weird? To dream about cannoli cream?

The next day was St. Patrick’s Day! I always go big on these smaller holidays. I love a theme! I think you know that by now.

Before everyone (else) woke up, I put together the Irish Stew in the crock pot.

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I sort of changed around the recipe. I used this recipe as a base:

http://everydaymomsmeals.blogspot.com/2013/02/its-not-soup-its-stew.html

I did not add onion soup mix (due to the non gluten and dairy-free and high sodium nature), so I added real onions. I only used one can of tomato soup and added a can of no-salt stewed tomatoes. I also added more of the same vegetables. I let that sit on low all day while we were busy doing other things.

For breakfast, I made Spinach Pancakes (yep – the third time in five days that I served my family pancakes – that’s how I roll). This was a great recipe.

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They were chock full of fresh spinach (two cups!). Bigs said that they tasted like green beans, but he kept eating them, so that’s a good sign.

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When drizzled with syrup and some butter, the very obvious spinach flavor was sort of pushed to the back (a plus for most kids).

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I added more vanilla than called for. I served them with corned beef hash.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.superhealthykids.com/blog-posts/no-dye-green-pancakes.php

My best friend since kindergarten was up visiting from where she lives and brought her little girl (who is only 2 months older than Smalls). I LOVE seeing my best friend. I miss her dearly. I feel so blessed to see two of my loveliest friends, who no longer live near me, all in the same week!

For an after lunch St. Patty’s Day treat, I made Leprechaun Pudding for the kids!

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I just mixed half a packet of sugar-free, fat-free white chocolate pudding mix into some vanilla yogurt and added some green coloring. I layered that with some Lucky Charms cereal. I think they liked it.

Earlier in the morning, I’d also made a birthday treat for my bestie. I asked her what she wanted and it was so simple and I love her for that. All she wanted was a boxed mix peanut butter brownie with a ganache on top. How easy!

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I sent that home with her. She let me try it and take pictures of it before she left though. THAT’S a best friend!

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It was good. I used coconut milk for the ganache.

While my boys were napping, I prepared our Irish dessert – Banoffee Pie! I totally used shortcuts. I made a quick crust from graham cracker crumbs and butter. I “baked” it in the toaster oven. I sliced a banana on top of that, melted and poured some dulce de leche that I bought from Costco, and sliced another banana on top. I then whipped a half pint of whipping cream and spread that on top.

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I let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. It was SO good.

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I loved that the dulce de leche was the only sweet part of it. I added no sugar to the graham crust or whipped cream. It was a nice contrast.

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It was a dream of a pie – crunchy, buttery and rich, sweet creamy bananas, indulgent, deep caramel, fluffy, milky topping. Seriously, the stuff (my) dreams are made of.

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Just…yum. It was even better the next day.

And the Irish Stew came out SO SO good!

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The stew beef was so tender, as were the potatoes.

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The broth was rich and tomato-y.

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We ate it for two days. It was great.

I’d call that a successful food holiday!

I got a chance to see my other friend (who we’d seen on Sunday) again before she went back up North. We met, with some other friends, at a neat farm-to-table restaurant.

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We started off with fresh, crusty bread and butter (the only way to “start” anything).

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My friend got a Blue Moon and I had some. I love that beer – so refreshing!

My other friend and I went halfsies on the burger. It wasn’t just any old burger. It had bacon jam, pimento cheese, spicy/sweet pickles, bibb lettuce, and a fried green tomato.

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One of the best burgers I’ve had!

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It was served with wedged potato fries topped with shaved white truffles. Earthy, salty goodness.

Aca-yeah!

Yet another friend and I shared the chocolate cake! We call each other “cakesters”…we just live for cake, what can I say!

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It was delicious. And a wonderful night with wonderful friends.

I got to see my kindergarten bestie again the next day! I took her to my favorite donut shop.

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She hadn’t been there before. She is now a convert.

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I got my now usuals – a sprinkle for Bigs, some holes for Smalls (one of which was shoved whole into his teeny mouth), a German chocolate, a Coconut Crunch, a strawberry and cream cheese, a chocolate and peanut butter, and a chocolate and cream cheese.

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I meannnnnn…..

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Oh, my heavens.

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Why, thank you!

We then walked off our calories at the zoo. It was such a gorgeous day!

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The boys and my bestie’s daughter, B, really loved seeing all the animals.

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The usually low-key otters were really playful and the lemurs saved their freak-out for when we were leaving.

It was a really wonderful day.

My, what a foodie Spring Break it’s been, and it isn’t even over yet!

I hope this finds you all well,

Kristin

There’s always time for cake!

There's always time for cake

Even though my busyness continues, there’s always time for cake. That’s SORT of ironic, only because making a cake is not always a fast process. You’ve often got multiple bowls going for your wet and dry ingredients, you’ve got to cool before you frost (usually). But somehow, if it is needed (isn’t it always), I always find time to make a cake. This time, I made a gluten and dairy free Chocolate Chip Zucchini loaf cake (under the guise of a “bread”). It came out great – moist, chewy, chocolately, healthy(ish).

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I love packing vegetables into food. What a great way to get a serving in your diet!

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I used three whole zucchini for this recipe. I’d never get away with roasting them and serving them at dinner. Well, Smalls might be all about it, but he’s weird. He didn’t even want this cake. Like I said, weird.

Up Close

I bet if Smalls knew it had so much zucchini in it, he’d have eaten it. He’s my savory-loving little boy!

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Here is the link:

http://www.foodfanatic.com/2013/09/gluten-free-zucchini-bread-decadently-chocolate/

We had simple salads for dinner to go with our veggie theme:

Oh Salad

And here’s today’s elephant themed lunch:

Elephant Themed Preschool Lunch

And elephant shaped PB&J (standing on his rock made out of crusts), an applesauce squeezy fruit, some corn, and some goldfish crackers. I used some elephant themed decorations I had, as well.

Have a wonderful Thursday (almost Friday, yay!),

Kristin

Ketching-up

Ketchup

Well, well, well. What a long break I’ve had from you. It’s felt long to me, too. I hope you haven’t forgotten about my itty bitty bloggy. Right? I need you to tell me you haven’t forgotten. Lots has happened since I’ve last written, but when I sit down to write, I can’t remember much! So we’ll just go down the list of food I’ve made or eaten. That’s mostly all I remember. That’s what I created this space for, mostly, anyways, the important food stuff.

I WAS going to post a few pictures of what I thought was a great dinner, but unfortunately, I had a little tummy bug and saw that dinner come up again and again the whole night. So. I cannot bear to look at it. You aren’t missing much anyways.

So last week was my husband’s birthday. You might remember my ill-fated birthday cupcakes. The next day, we took our kids to a theme park to celebrate Husband’s birthday in a bigger way. It was a long fun day! I packed lunches for the boys:

Mickey Mouse Themed Lunches

I made Mickey Mouse shaped PB&J, gave each boy some goldfish, gave Smalls some applesauce, and gave Bigs some whole grapes and a gummy worm.

We don’t normally spend money on overpriced theme park food, but it was a special day. Upon getting there (in the morning), we started with a Mickey Mouse shaped macaron (could have done without that one, flavor wise) and a surprisingly worth-the-money-for-the-taste lollipop. You are a hero to your almost 4 year old if you let him have a lollipop right after breakfast, especially one with Mickey on the front and that is bigger than his hand. Trust me. You’re a hero.

Mickey Mouse Food

That lollipop left its mark on just about everything we owned – sticky town!!

Aaaaand, we got the most buttery, salty popcorn life had to offer. Yum.

Popcorn Piggy Face

The next day was another working-in-Bigs-classroom day for me. I love those days! We were learning about trains so I made an appropriate lunch for Bigs.

Train Themed Preschool Lunch

A train shaped PB&J (what else!), pretzel sticks, a clementine, and some pudding in a cup. Chugga chugga!

And I packed myself a lunch, too.

Mommy School Lunch

I made a quick farro salad the night before. I boiled and drained farro. I added rice vinegar, some Asian spices, peas, and corn, and S&P. On the side, I packed a clementine and two small (cut up) bell peppers. For snack, I had pretzels and hummus.

Bigs also had a day where he learned about air planes.

Airplane Themed Preschool Lunch

It’s an airplane shaped PB&J (Food Writers details), the word “Air!” stamped in bread, a box of raisins, graham crackers, grapes, and a clementine.

Well that catches us up only to Thursday. See? I told you it was a long week! Friday, one of my favorite days of the week, was a zoo playdate days. Here are the boys’ lunches:

Animal Themed Zoo Lunches

For Bigs, a camel shaped PB&J for Bigs (lightly sprayed gold and eye and toe details added), a clementine, grapes, a box of raisins, and some bear shaped cookies for dessert. For Smalls, I packed a bear shaped PB&J (my track records for adding bear details to a bear shaped sandwich are now 2/2…as in, I’ve messed up 2), some bear shaped cookies, some grapes, and a clementine.

Just before meeting our friends at the zoo, I took my little sweeties to one of our favorite places – a Mom & Pop donut shop! I daresay…and with confidence….this donut shop beats Dunkin’ Donuts AND Krispy Kreme. I can’t even handle how good they are. And my boys think it is such a very special treat going there.

Donut Date

When you walk in, you smell fresh donuts being made. It is such a different kind of donut shop. I adore that place. Look how cute my boys are peeking in the donut case. I hope one of them works there when they turn working-age. Anyways, Bigs picked his usual sprinkles donut (gotta love a kid who knows what he wants!) and I got the same for Smalls. They were almost out of donuts (this place is popular) so I chose ones I don’t normally choose. And I’m glad I did. I have a new favorite. The German chocolate donut was literally to die for. I am dreaming of it now – a not-too-sweet raised donut that was full of cocoa flavor, a rich, coconutty icing dollop, streaks of chocolate frosting. Yes, it’s my new favorite. The bottom left was a strawberry and cream cheese one, also to die for.

Sluuuuurp! **wiping drool off**

Bigs loves sprinkles (he’s the reason, after all, for the name of this blog!!), but Smalls and his sprinkle donut? That was quite a different story. He attempted to  pick off each sprinkle and discard. The horror!!

Then we were off to the zoo! Sadly, it was the day that the entire tri-county school system brought kids in for a field trip. But we still had fun!

Zoo Date

We saw the new giraffes, we ate our funny lunches, rode the choo choo train and the carousel. It was a great day.

That brings us to Saturday! We volunteered for a “Serve Day” at our church.
The kids decorated and filled snack bags for the other volunteers doing more physical work (landscaping, cleaning, etc.).

God is Love

We handed out the bags and the kids said, “Thank you for serving!”, and it was so wonderful to see the kids get it – giving back and being a servant. Love our church!

That night, we were feeling burgers. And peanuts.

Burger Mania

Five Guys is a place where you can get both. AND you can make a big mess of the peanuts, something that is highly appealing to small children. Making a mess on purpose and not getting in trouble? Sign them up!

And lastly, here is today’s camping themed lunch. I LOVE this one!

Camping Themed Preschool Lunch

This might just be my new favorite lunch for Bigs. I did a couple of little cocktail weenies, a packet of ketchup, some corn off the cob, and for dessert, a make your own s’mores (a few graham crackers, a few tiny marshmallows and one little Hershey square). I hope he loves it!! It gave me the giddy giggles to put it together.

Alright. All ketch’d-up. Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Kristin

Valentine’s Day Leftovers

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day week. We sure had a busy one! And it spanned over a few days, too. We filled food bags for hungry kids through our church and school (which is the same thing for us). It was a great way of showing Bigs how to show love to others, even if we don’t know them.

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It was nice to let Bigs pick out the pantry items to put in the bag.

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And then to see the sea of red bags in the foyer of his school was just heartwarming.

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Then, Bigs’ Thursday class party was just precious. The kids sang (so very softly and with some nervousness too) “Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink”. Then we ate. And it was just a perfect day.

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Bigs and his Valentine’s for his teacher and the Admin 🙂

Bigs woke up to his last “What I love about you” heart on his door on Valentine’s Day. Each morning, starting February 1st, I put a new heart on his bedroom door while he was sleeping. It was a fun thing for him and it allowed me to put in writing for him to see, some of the things I love about him.

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On Valentine’s morning, I made pink almond pancakes with sprinkles.

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They were so good. I put conversation hearts as decoration, although they were highly coveted by The Big One.

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I let him only have a few, knowing how sugary sweet the rest of the day would, inevitably, be.

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And Cupid came, wrote a poem, and left his poop (hey, I live in a house where poopy humor runs [get it?] rampant)!

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We went on our Friday playdate, where the kids exchanged Valentine’s (just like at school the previous day). It was a lot of fun. I packed up the cookies I’d made earlier in the week (what’s interesting to me is that the kids liked the Sweethearts candy more than the cookies! Oh well – more for us Moms!). I had made sure to make double batches of everything so we’d have enough.

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After we got home and napped, I took the boys to the market to get some dinner supplies. I wanted to make a nice meal for them and my Sweetheart. I made Chateaubriand Filet Mignon (such a rare treat!!) and asparagus, and had a few salads.

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To make the steaks, I let them get to room temperature, sprinkled them with Kosher salt, and placed in my preheated, olive oil-coated grill pan. I seared them for a few minutes on each side and transferred them to a sheet pan. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes and brought them out to rest. For the asparagus, I rolled them around in olive oil and Kosher salt and roasted them in the 400 degree oven for 13 minutes on a sheet pan.

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I served them with a strawberry and spinach salad, and a cucumber and dill salad purchased from the market. It was all delicious!

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We had chocolate covered strawberries for dessert, quite fitting.

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That night, I made a Flourless Chocolate Cake (the recipe was already gluten free and I made the ganache dairy free) to celebrate my father-in-law and husband’s (husband has birthday coming up) birthdays the next morning.

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The cake came together easily and so beautifully. It was dark, dense, and oh-so-chocolately. The ganache was glossy, rich, and shiny.

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http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/flourless-chocolate-cake-recipe

While I was making that, the boys painted their little ceramic elephant craft we’d gotten them for Valentine’s Day. They had a lot of fun. It was a lovely day.

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Bigs

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Smalls

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Final product: Bigs, left, and Smalls, right

Bigs also did his Valentine’s Day homework that his awesome teacher sent home! It was a neat Sweethearts themed one!

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It involved counting and coloring heart shapes and sweethearts. SO CUTE!!

The next morning, we got up and “released” Bigs’ Valentine’s Day heart balloon. I sort of love doing that. It’s fun to watch it flit away, wherever the wind pulls it. The kids liked it too.

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I like to think that if I saw a heart shaped balloon flying in such a gorgeous, crisp, blue sky, it would make me smile!

Then we went to my husband’s parents’ house to celebrate his and his father’s birthdays with chocolate cake and a sunshiny day!

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We played with sidewalk chalk and played hopscotch. Does anyone play that anymore?

Then…cake!

I used this knife that my wonderful sister-from-another-mister friend gave me:

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It’s always been my life’s motto! Even as a young child!

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The cake was RICH! So rich, like a truffle. But very good.

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Despite being a short little old thing, it fed a lot of people – my in-laws, my own family, I gave some to my parents and also to our neighbors! The cake that kept on giving!

We ended our day with walking around a craft store. Look at this cute bike bell I found – it’s a donut! I just need a bike now!

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Although I didn’t get it, if I did, it would have been like buying the shoes first…THEN the outfit. That’s normally how I do it.

Church on Sunday was wonderful. We love our pastor and his messages. The boys had fun in Sunday School and had a fun snack before naps:

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Yogurt Banana Splits!

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I cut a banana in half and lengthwise and put vanilla yogurt and chopped strawberries in between. The boys got such a kick out of it. We needed to get back to simple eating after all the festive, rich foods we consumed this weekend.

And back on the diet. :/

I hope you all had a blessed “holiday” weekend! I’m ready to slow down, get back to “normal” (schedules, diets, LIFE!).

Kristin

Sweetie Pie

hearts

Tomorrow is a big day in Bigs’ class – it’s his Valentine’s Day party! No matter how many old (relatively speaking) pictures I show him, he doesn’t remember Valentine’s Day last year. So this time around should be groundbreaking for him. I think he’ll really enjoy it! The parents of Bigs’ classmates have been invited to a potluck lunch in his classroom, and we are so excited! I was in charge of desserts. Obvi. It’s what I do. Plus, they may not know it, but none of the other attendees want anything I’ve cooked. Blarg.

will you be mine

I made three different desserts. I love variety. I think that’s why I love buffets so much (don’t judge). I need options. Lots of options.

All the desserts I made for tomorrow are gluten free. Not only is my husband GF, but one of Bigs’ sweet classmates is. I love being able to make desserts that everyone can eat. AND that taste great!

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The first dessert I made was a Cherry Vanilla Almond Meringue Cookie.

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I doubled the recipe and it made approximately one million. The recipe called for cherry extract, but as my life typically goes, I did not have that. I did, however, have a Duncan Hines Cherry Vanilla Frosting Starter (powder intended to be mixed into vanilla frosting). It added both a lovely cherry vanilla flavor AND color. I also added Wilton pink (rosa) gel color and extra almond extract to make up for the vibrant cherry flavoring. They came out so festively pink and delicious!

http://momspark.net/holiday-dessert-cherry-almond-meringues/

The second dessert I made was a chocolate cookie I first made about a week ago – Vegan Chocolate Haystacks. SO GOOD! And easy. Two of my favorite things.

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This time, I used Hershey’s DARK chocolate cocoa and they came out richer and more chocolatey.

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

And lastly, I made a GF chocolate cinnamon cookie that I’ve made half a dozen times before. They are really unbelievably good. These were the first cookie I’d eaten that really broke my own personal stigma against gluten free food.

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Chock FULL of chocolate chips, these little babies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Yummers. This is a family favorite cookie in our house, long before my husband went GF and DF.

http://food52.com/recipes/19209-divine-gluten-free-chocolate-cookies-no-seriously

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I put the desserts in a hot pink tray that I found at the Dollar Store. I also found the little vase there as well. It says, “Love” in different fonts on it. I filled it with conversation hearts. I think it looks cute.

I meannnn, this would be a lovely addition to any Valentine’s Day table!

Even one’s own personal table for one, if that’s your case. If single, I’d DEFINITELY make sure I were eating well.

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I can’t wait to tuck into this (my portion ONLY) tomorrow!

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Happy Valentine’s Eve Eve (so lame)!

I am sadly missing out on a Mommy Night Out making chocolates due to horribly inclement weather. Such a bummer, but I’ll pinch a cookie out of the batches I made today and pretend I’m in a chocolate factory (using the depths of my imagination).

Valentines

Have a sweet night!

Kristin

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A Pizza my Mind!!

It was Pizza Day in my Bigs’ class yesterday!! You can tell by the number of “!” how excited I was. I am so food-inspired. It’s weird. Anyways, my Bigs was excited too! We love our pizza – OBVIOUSLY. I make a lot of it. We eat it a lot. Even Smalls likes it. And he likes saying it…”Peepoo, peepoo, peepoo!!”. He’s cute.

Pizza - Close Enough

Yup.

I made Bigs a pizza-themed lunch, also obviously. It’s what I do.

Pizza Party Themed Preschool Lunch

This one was so much fun to make! I made a pizza-shaped PB&J (this kid and his PB&J’s!!) and used my food-safe spray to make a golden crust and sort of reddish sauce. I cut out fruit leather “pepperoni” (I add the crusts and bread leftovers back into the bento after picture taking – no one wants to see those things), which served as his dessert. I added pretzel chips and real pepperoni so Bigs can make little snack stacks. Is that even a phrase? He also has an applesauce squeezy fruit. I got such a hoot out of making this. I can’t even handle it.

And obviously, we had to dress the part! I can’t help myself!

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Just a red and white striped shirt (my friend, B, let me know that she found Waldo!!) and…PIZZA EARRINGS. I can’t even.

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Food jewelry makes me happy. Is that weird?

Anyways, I painted pizzas on my nails too. Was it too much?

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All the girls in Bigs’ class squealed with delight when I showed these to them. The boys could care less, although Bigs and Smalls liked it, at home!

I do it for the kids. What can I say?

And Bigs dressed the part too (Smalls always matches big Brother, so he had the same shirt on that day too), wearing a shirt with pizzas having a party.

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I know. I know I’m ridiculous. I admit and accept that.

Bigs’ wonderful teacher had really fabulous pizza themed activity centers! And for snack time, each kid got to make their own little English muffin pizza. It was so fun! I loved seeing how different each pizza came out.

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This has sort of been a pizza week for us. I made Pizza Pasta earlier in the week.

I made it up. I mean, I’m sure it’s been done a time or thousand, but I came up with it on the fly, with what I had.

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It basically came out of when dinner time rolled around and I hadn’t thawed anything. And it worked with our pizza theme.

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I mixed spaghetti sauce with teeny pasta shells (GF for Husband), added mini pepperoni, cheese (none for Husband), and olives, only for me.

I served it with peas and apples. It was good and it totally looked like I planned it.

And today, Friday, I made pizza for dinner. Just to “round” out the week.

I used this GF & DF crust mix:

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It’s pretty good. It comes with a packet of yeast, so it’s at least more like a “real” pizza crust.

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This was the pizza for Bigs, Smalls, and me. GF, but with cheese, ham, and pepperoni.

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My husband’s looked a little more pitiful without the cheese and three lonely pepperonis.

But dessert made up for it (it IS Dessert Friday, after all!!)!

I made vegan Chocolate Haystacks.

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This simple recipe consists only of making a quick, vegan chocolate sauce, mixing it with rolled oats, and freezing. That’s it!

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They came together in minutes and were fantastic!

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I think these would make for a really lovely Valentine’s Day dessert.

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Try them! They are so easy and you probably have all the ingredients!

Here is the recipe:

http://www.becauseilikechocolate.com/2013/12/vegan-chocolate-haystacks.html

My kind of blogger – “Because I like chocolate”…

ANNNNND, since we are on the topic of dessert, my beautiful friend had a birthday yesterday and shared her cupcakes with some of our other beautiful friends. We had a great time and cupcakes are ALWAYS a plus. 🙂

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Aren’t they just gorgeous? I meannnnnn….. I can barely contain myself where there is a cupcake around. Just wonderful.

I hope you all have had a lovely week and that your weekend is just as lovely!

Kristin

Orange you glad?

So, how has your New Year been treating you so far? I’ve discovered (via friend and styling medias), dry shampoo. It’s sort of the answer to some of my dreams. The dreams of sprucing up this under-showered Mommy.

And we’ve been busy. I’ve been terribly busy today catching up on emails (they get dreadfully behind so easily…not that I am that popular, but it does take some catching up) and I had two weeks’ worth of laundry. Yuck. I can’t stand laundry. I started it at 6:30am and as I sit here writing this, at night, I still have huge (clean), folded piles sitting on the dining room table. Mocking me. I am already over it. The house was in complete disarray today, every single toy out. The boys were pink-cheeked from running around the house so much. Suffice it to say, I was certifiably insane by nap time. And maybe refreshed a little afterwards, but still insane.

The boys started off the day very peacefully. I made them breakfast and they, adorably, played with cars while eating.

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Bigs and his dump truck. And his cereal.

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Smalls and his dump truck digger pusher thing IN his cereal.

It was a very, very cold morning and day. The sort where you love staying inside and wearing your jammies and slippers all day. Which we did.

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Smalls

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The boys, still peaceful, played cars and trains for what seemed like forever.

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I enjoyed a cup of coffee (or three) in my new mug from a friend (the sunflower thing on the top is this neat little suction thing that keeps your drink warm – from my Mom-in-law and I love it).

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Smalls enjoyed catching up on books from his reading list.

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Both boys drew pictures and made squeaky noises with their fingers on the condensation-covered front window (Bigs standing on a chair and Smalls standing in my dog’s toy basket).

Life seemed peaceful. All was right in the world. We were in our warm, little cocoon safe from the world’s troubles and frigidity.

But…

I don’t know if Santa didn’t bring them enough things to do, or they read every book (they seemingly have hundreds) they own, but cabin fever set in for them by lunchtime, which incidentally, that was about the time where every toy in life that these boys have were pulled out and scattered all over the house, as if a toy and book store exploded and I was pulling out my hair.

<<Whiny voice>> It’s just so haaaaaaard, waaaaaah!

Okay. Snit over.

I made a pretend ambrosia salad. I’d have preferred a real one, but naturally, did not have all the necessary ingredients. I had also planned on a tropical cous cous salad for lunch, but also lacked ingredients for that as well. Sigh. Tomorrow’s a new day.

I love ambrosia salad (the kind with marshmallows in it). I love how the sour cream and the acid from the pineapple mix together to break down the sugars in the marshmallows, making a creamy sort of sauce.

Well, I didn’t have pineapple. Not fresh, not frozen, not canned.

So. I used both fresh clementines segments and canned mandarin oranges. It was quite…orangey. I also used sour cream, shredded coconut and marshmallows. I didn’t follow any directions or measurements. Should have (lol).

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Desserts and sides I can do (usually). But lately, I’ve been in a real pickle with cooking dinners. I have the occasional good ones, but with my husband’s newly gluten-free and dairy-free diet (due to his Crohn’s), I’ve been a little overwhelmed. I never know if I should switch us all over to GF & DF (which for some things, I’m not okay giving up completely and also our grocery bill will go significantly up) or if I should cook two different meals or if I should have him sort of pick what he wants and have a go himself. Tonight, despite having a lack of energy, I sort of made two meals. I made a ham and pea pasta and used GF pasta for my husband.

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I cubed some ham (from a previous meal) and browned it in a pan with olive oil and fresh garlic. I added some peas and cooking wine and reduced. I put some in with his GF pasta and then the rest in ours. The bottom picture is the steamy ham and pea mixture.

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It was decent. I added tumeric to Hubs’. It’s a spice that is known to alleviate internal inflammation (a side effect of Crohn’s).

I’d rather have eaten this vegetarian salad from a new local eatery that I enjoyed yesterday. It was really good. It was greens with falafel and a lot of other Mediterranean salads on top. I had it with a yogurt sauce, garlic sauce and tahini. And topped with a cilantro sauce.  I want more. It was really heavenly. It is such a shame I am stuck with my own cooking.

Falafel Salad

Anyways, while we ate, Smalls ran around (he only will stay in his high chair for 2 minutes MAX and then scream like a banshee and worm his way out of the straps, soooooo what’s the point of torturing all of us? I’ve found he eats more when not trapped.), standing on my feet (had my legs crossed).

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He balanced on my crossed foot and got all up on the table. This kid is nuts.

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He also played peekaboo. Has anyone seen Smalls?? Such a goofball. 🙂 I love how he “hides”.

And Bigs ate all his noodles because he was promised that ambrosial dessert if he did. I am all for negotiations if needed. Sue me. At least dessert was half fruit.

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Look at these little wonders.

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They were…um…a little less than decent. The marshmallows were able to break down a little, but the pineapple flavor was clearly missing (in my opinion) and for some reason the coconut was hard. Not quite the ambrosial effect I was hoping for.

Sigh.

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Whatever. It still looked pretty. I might pick out all the marshmallows and then I won’t have to chalk it up to a complete loss.

Because he had marshmallows, Bigs went a little berserk. Coo-coo bananas running all over the house. Sigh.

The night ended with the boys doing downward dogs (my poor pup safely out of the way).

Downward Dog Boys

I hope your day was more/less exciting than mine and definitely less chaotic.

Off to put laundry away. Waaaaaaaah.

Kristin

Peace n Blessins’

It’s been a strange (for some reasons), sad week (for other reasons)…and it’s not even over yet. But I am able to see the blessings mixed in. And I am so very grateful for them.

The second I saw Bigs when picking him up in his classroom on Tuesday, he excitedly told me he had something that he made and wanted me to see. Poor kid – I made him wait (not knowing what it was) until we were all buckled in the car, snacks distributed. I pulled out a Christmas card from a white envelope. When I opened it, it had  a typical holiday message inside, but lots and lots of pencil scribbles all over that message. Bigs had written me a Christmas card and said he did it because he really wanted to do something special for me. I was in tears!

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This is, by far, the most special Christmas card I’ll receive. Later on that night, while the house was quiet and both boys were snug in their beds, I listened to Bigs talk himself to sleep (on the monitor), which he does every nap and nighttime, for hours, and heard him telling his “friends” (stuffed animals) about this. He said, “I gave Mommy a Christmas card! I put lots of scribbles in it. It made her HAAAAPPPPPYYYY.” I just sat there, monitor up to my ear, thanking God for this precious boy who means so much to me and thanking God that I mean so much to him that he proudly tells his animals that he made me happy with this. I am so blessed.

And Smalls. This kid. While he has the energy of…what has a lot of energy that an average human cannot keep up with? Whatever that is, he is. Sure, he destroys my house and causes some headaches. But I love him so!

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My little climber hangs on everything. And jumps. And leaps. And balances. In these pictures, he is hanging from his high chair (which, incidentally, I have to use the straps to contain him while he’s eating…something I never had to do with Bigs. I even took the straps off when Bigs used it!) and is about to stand on the arm rest of a chair. He loves standing in that wingback to look out the window. Well. He did that yesterday and fell right off, but not before grabbing that curtain and clinging to it for dear life. That sucker pulled the curtain rod right out of the wall, drywall powder flying everywhere, my holiday swag (from atop the window) rushing down to the ground. Sigh. Once he was comforted and I was redecorating my house, he tried to do it again. He came back for seconds. I guess that goose egg on his forehead, a lesson did not teach!

But despite being such a rough-and-tumble little guy, he has the most sensitive heart when it comes to me. And I am so grateful. I must get hundreds of hugs from him throughout the day. He will just come up and put his head in my lap, say, “Awww!” and go about his bizniz. And he’s just started squeezing during hugs, with all his might, curling his little skinny arms and hands around my neck like he’s my scarf, and let me tell you, I feel the love pouring out of him and into me.

I am so blessed.

We met some friends at the local zoo this week for a playdate. While we were waiting on them to arrive, my boys and I watched the splash park area where we spent many of our summer days.

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Bigs watched longingly.

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And my sweet Smalls grabbed my hands and firmly planted them over his teeny face, not wanting to see the splashing water because it scared him. I adore that my boys trust me and that God has put them in MY trust.

I am so blessed.

For me, it’s the little things that make me happy.

A Christmas card from my son. I am going to frame that thing.

Tinsel on the diaper booty of my little son (as he’s touching the tree and every ornament on it within reach).

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I love that little diaper booty.

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My boys sharing a cup of eggnog. This is Bigs holding up the sippy to Smalls’ mouth. They fuss and fight and annoy each other, as siblings oft do, but they are the best of friends.

I am so blessed.

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And materialistically speaking, I got these pair of shoes (have I mentioned I “collect” shoes??) for…wait for it…$0.01 this week. AND they have ice cream on the part where you put your feet. How perfect. [I had a coupon for money off my whole purchase and the whole purchase was the amount of the GC, save for $0.01.] Deal of the century, which is needed because we are on a serious budget!

Gumball

I won (Sorry to my dear friend from whom I “stole this” and thank you my dear friend who brought this!) this sweet little gumdrop Christmas ornament for my Sweets Tree at my church group ornament exchange.

It’s the little things.

Our elf, Duncan, has been up to some things this week too!

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He “hung around” with a swing saying, “North Pole or bust!!”.

Elf on a Shelf Day 12

He pulled some Christmas books off of the bookshelf and had a little reading sesh.

And I made some kid food and desserts.

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Today is Bigs’ last day of school for the year. And he has his Christmas program, at which, surely I’ll be shedding tears! I am so proud of him! Today, I made a Santa and stocking shaped PB&J (added the crusts back in but left them out of the picture, because…ew), he has corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit,some holiday-shaped Goldfish crackers, and for dessert a few holiday Goldfish cookies and Christmas M&M’s. It’s a special day. I put a close-up of the sandwiches to show detail – I used red, gold and green food-safe food spray and some food gel to make polka-dots on the stocking.

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And for the ornament exchange party last night, I made a healthy dessert dip! I made a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dip out of…chick peas!!

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/05/23/want-to-eat-an-entire-bowl-of-cookie-dough/

It’s the little things that count. And I feel so blessed. Some days I’m just thankful to get up in the mornings.

Today I get to make special treats for Bigs’ class to enjoy after their Christmas program. I can’t even wait.

Hope you have a peace n blessin’s filled day…remember that the little blessings count.

Kristin

Gimme S’More

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Ohhh, life has been so challenging lately, let’s discuss something light. And sweet. And toasty. And chocolatey. I need to take my mind off my troubles.

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Gimme s’more. So not original. But what other puns (of which, I am a HUGE fan) can be said of s’mores? Not much (although Husband just shouted out, “The Legend of Sleepy Mallow!!”, but how can I use that?). But does it matter? What matters is making and eating the s’mores. It’s an experience! I have been known to make them in my toaster oven when having a craving. And don’t think for one second that Hubby doesn’t come up behind me (staring into the toaster oven – I LOVE seeing the marshmallows brown and puff up) and ask for some! But nothing tastes like a s’more made over a fire, because MY favorite part about it is the toasted marshmallow flavor all smooshed into the melted chocolate. Oh, just YUM.

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This burger is something to behold. A few friends and I decided to put a s’mores IN a burger. The result was delicious, as you’d maybe not expect. It was REALLY good – salty, gooey, sweet, smoky. If you’re feeling particularly daring at your next cookout, and have calories left in your day, give it a try.

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This is my husband and Bigs roasting marshmallows on our back porch last winter. It was so fun. Even little baby Smalls go in on the action. We can’t wait to do this again, when it gets more consistently cold out!

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Isn’t that little outfit a hoot? It was a hand-me-down and kept him so toasty (get it?)!

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We love our s’mores in this family! I like to do variations on it, as well. There are so many options – S’mores Brownies, S’mores Dip, S’mores Cake, S’mores Pie (Do I sound like Forrest Gump talking about shrimp, but instead s’mores?? I do.). The choices are only as endless as your imagination! Well, not your imagination. I’m sure you’re very imaginative. Right? Hopefully more than me. I seriously lack in imagination. My skills are quite limited, I must painfully admit. Tangent!

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Here are some S’mores Cake Pops I made a while back. I am not even sure of the recipe on this one. You can easily do brownies or chocolate cake and mix with maybe a vanilla or marshmallow frosting and then dip in chocolate and then crushed grahams.

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I made this glorious S’mores Trifle for this last 4th of July. Isn’t it a beauty? It’s taken me only almost five months to see that I spelled “s’mores” wrong on my own graphic. Cool. But it was so good, no one should complain! Here is the recipe!

http://www.momendeavors.com/2013/06/brownie-smores-trifle-dessert.html

Smores Brownies

These S’mores Brownies are outta this world! A baked graham cracker crust, a homemade brownie and an ooey gooey toasted marshmallow topping. What could go wrong (besides burning the whole lot, which I’ve done!?)??

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/smore-brownies-recipe/index.html

There is something so very magical that happens when you make your own brownie batter. The second you add those eggs, that chocolate turns so glossy and shiny. The stuff dreams are made of! Well, MY dreams. Do you dream about chocolate? Is it weird that I do?

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Don’t even ask me how I got that picture of my own self stirring brownie batter. I musta looked weird, but the end is magical, still, right? I’m not even sure I’d be able to master that again!

It’s SO easy to make brownies from scratch. I urge you to do it. It beats a boxed mix any day and is SO SO easy. I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true!

Smore for you

For moi?? Why, thank you! Don’t mind if I do!

This is so me. I really am the official taste tester (of all things) in my house. “Oh, let Mommy take a quick little bite to make sure it isn’t too hot!” See how that works? Totally works. Get extra bites every time. Bigs is on to me though. Now he’ll say, “Mommy, don’t eat the hole thing!”…clever boy.

Smores Tester

I know in other parts of our country and world, it is FREEZING outside right now. Perfect s’mores weather. We, on the other hand, are still waiting for it to cool down just a teensy bit more before breaking out the fire pit. But when we do, it’s ON!! S’mores in my face (mouth) all the time!

I want Smore

Always.

I think, therefore I s’more.

Have an ooey, gooey, crunchy, smoky, chocolately day!

Kristin

PS – if you want to make your own marshmallows, here is a great recipe:

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2010/10/26/homemade-hot-chocolate-marshmallows-voting-now-open-in-project-food-blog-round-6/

If you want to make your own graham crackers, try this one:

http://willowbirdbaking.com/2010/01/27/nanaimo-bars/