Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Creepy cupcakes

Today we had a messy adventure in making Halloween cupcakes. I needed to make 2 dozen for the missionary zone conference tomorrow so I enlisted some very willing children to help me.

First I lined up the troops
Here is the cast of characters - the icing was a cream cheese yummy goodness that I could not keep my fingers out of! Speaking of fingers, do you see the little finger headed in for a treat?

Natalie took her job very seriously

Sophie looked very professional
Calvin licked his cupcake. A lot.

These are the cupcakes for the missionaries. I made all of these by myself. Notice the complete lack of tongue marks on the actual cupcakes.

I thought perhaps the kids could frost the rest and we'd give them to the neighbors . . . . and then, I thought better of it. These were made by Max. He experimented with the "double-decker" on the left.

These were Sophie's - Yummmmm

And this is Calvin's. You see what I mean? The neighbors don't need the calories.

Crafty Girl - I scrapped

I managed to finish three pages this week! Yes, these are old, that is Calvin being blessed - I'm behind people.

Fright Night

So, here's the round-up. On Friday night a darling family in our ward though a Halloween Party at the church for all of the kids in the ward. They told all of the parents to drop off their kids and head out on a date. Not wanting to hurt their feelings, we did just that!
I brought over the kids, met Bryan at the church a bit later and we were off with Ken and Kelly to go to Jasmine Deli in Minneapolis. If you live in the Twin Cities and do not frequent Jasmine Deli on a regular basis then I say to you REPENT!!
The deli is a little hole-in-the-wall, dirt cheap diamond in the rough. The Vietnamese food is delicious and you MUST try the noodle salads and the spring rolls . . . and the noodle soups . . . and the basil rolls - ok, everything is excellent and did I mention cheap? There is nothing on the menu that is more than $7.00!
Here are some of the kids before we abandoned them for good food and adult conversation.

Evelyn, the cutest ladybug

Sophie was the Wicked Which of the West. She just finished reading The Wizard of Oz and loved the book. She danced a lot and tried to look wicked.

Here is poor, poor Max. Max's mommy found this awesome fisherman costume at a garage sale for $1.00. Waders, vest, hat with lures AND a fish shaped treat bag? I'd say that's pretty cool! Max thought differently after he saw Gragory's edgy half-bat-half-dragon costume. Then he just felt like a pansy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Max's Spelling List

Max brings home a spelling list every week from 2nd grade. Today I pulled it out of his folder and this is his list.

1. disguise
2. fountain
3. heroine
4. gesticulate
5. glockenspiel
6. heirloom
7. hearsay
8. journalism
9. caught
10. usually
11. stopped
12. outside

Things I ponder: Glockenspiel?!? I love the fact that I had to look at his list to spell that correctly. Try using it in a sentence. Gesticulate?!? Who exactly uses this word?! If my child knows how to spell it do I have to start using it?

I asked Max who chose the words and he told me the students are allowed to choose their spelling lists from a list provided by their teacher, but "because I am so cunning, my teacher lets me choose mine from the dictionary. "

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Crafty Kids

As a mother I am constantly feeling guilty that I do not do enough with my kids. Not enough teaching them, reading to them, playing games and doing crafty projects. When I visit someone's home or blog and see all the cute things they have made with their kids, the guilt goes into overdrive.

On Friday, the guilty-mommy feelings were high, so I pulled out some Halloween looking craft supplies and let Sophie, Calvin and Natalie have at it! The problem with any project and kids is, they make a mess. Every time.

Calvin LOVED the glue, but found it quite a challenge to squeeze!
It was much easier with a bit of help from Sophie.
Natalie's project - we had no end goal in mind
This is Calvin's very gluey project. I love how you can tell those are his fingers by his little mole. It has been there since birth.
Here's my other beef with crafty projects. What do you do with them all?! I feel like my fridge is in a constant state of molting. After a few days I slipped these into the garbage. Don't tell my kids.

Delightful Deals and Wish Lists

I was thinking about American girl dolls again today as the kids were updating their Amazon.com wish lists in early preparation for Christmas and birthdays. I love the wish list idea. Whenever the kids come in raving and begging for some item a friend has or something they saw in the store, I say "no, I will not buy it for you, but you can put it on your wish list!" Somehow, putting it on the wish list is almost as good as actually getting the gift!

This works for adults as well. I LOVE my wish list! When someone tells me about a great book or I read a review for a fabulous cookbook, it goes on the wish list. Even if I never buy it, it helps me remember to borrow it from the library or rent it from Net Flicks, and when I do, it comes off the wish list. Bryan used to be a huge challenge for me when it came time for Christmas, but now I just hop on his extensive book wish list and order a couple of books and he is blissfully happy!

As Sophie oooooed and aaahhhhed over online doll accessories, I decided to search for some cheaper means of clothing American Girl Dolls (mind you, I do not sew so that is not an option). LOOK at what I found on one of my favorite sites - Etsy!

I love the cute Christmas dress with matching apron for $15

Or look at these darling overalls with the matching horse for $22or this sweet school outfit for $14

Hmmm, good thing Sophie does not really read this blog. She may be getting the Target knock-off doll from Santa and maybe an outfit from Mom and Dad. shhhhhhh.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Chocolate Marvel

I made two of these cakes this week as thank-yous for my friends who graciously watched my kids while I traipsed off to Chicago. It is a chocolate pound cake with chocolaty goodness poured all over it. Here is the recipe - I often add orange zest to the cake or the glaze or sometimes I add almond extract. It's hard to go wrong!

Bittersweet Chocolate Pound Cake

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups water
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken up
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla

FOR CAKE: Preheat oven to 325ºF. (300ºF for dark pans). Grease 10-inch bundt pan. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl. Bring water to a boil in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add 6 ounces baking chocolate; stir until smooth. Beat sugar, butter and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat on high speed for 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture alternately with chocolate mixture.

Pour into prepared bundt pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until long wooden pick inserted in cake comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle with glaze. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).

FOR GLAZE: Melt 1 bar (2 ounces) baking chocolate and butter in small, heavy-duty saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar alternately with water until of desired consistency. Stir in vanilla extract.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Big Woods Half Marathon

So, our girl's trip to Chicago ended on Saturday morning at 3:00 am when we pulled into my driveway. Instead of spending the ENTIRE next day sleeping off the 100,000 calories I consumed, I got up at 6:30 am to get the kids ready to leave for Bryan's half marathon! Our friends Ken and Kelly came as well with their tow kids to run in the 10K race. Needless to say, I was tired and it was a bit chilly outside.

Here we are arriving at the race. We had to park about two miles away! See the steeple in the distance? That's the start! Who are all these people who get up early on a Saturday morning to RUN?!

Ken and Kelly before the race.
The start - I can see Bryan and Ken - look for blue shirts!

The kids and I had a lot of time to kill while the crazy people were off running, so we decided to go and play in the cemetery.
We held running races between the tombstones and Max decided he was in a band called "The Dead Bodies" and kept singing their latest hits into a stick. My favorite was a stirring rendition of "Jumping on Dead Bodies, Yeah."

We waited for a long time. Max brought Harry Potter Book 5, Sophie played with Evelyn and Calvin and Luke took off their shoes a lot.

... and rolled around on the wet grass.

Sophie kept wandering off to pet dogs and look for sticks.

Here they come - Ken and Kelly on the home stretch!

They decided to sprint it into the finish line - I think it was too close to call.

After they had some warm soup and food inside the church, we all sat around to wait some more!

Calvin got seriously bored.

Here he comes! Bryan on the home stretch! The entire course was supposed to be run on trails but because of the wacky weather, all of the trails were flooded so the race was run on dirt roads. Bryan's time was 2:15:39!
Way to go honey!
Um, I had a lot of time on my hands waiting with the kids, so I took some photos. Surprised?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last Chicago Post - I Swear!!

I had to include these cute photos! This is Navy Pier ($24 for parking, even if you stay for 1/2 hour!) The girls hung out here while Susan and I gorged ourselves on chocolate!

Beautiful flowers from the atrium at the pier.

I did not go on the ferris wheel. I am not really into rides - bad experience once at the Champlain Valley Fair in Vermont. Ask Maria, she knows.

Susan and Emily
Susan and Melanie
Some random block in downtown Chicago where they had died the fountain orange for Halloween and had a huge haunted house!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Living Large

Overall impressions of Chicago? Beautiful buildings, fabulous shopping, amazing food, freaking expensive! I could never live in Chicago - unless Bryan gets offered a job paying a cool million a year - then I might consider it.

This was our hotel. They do not let you park your own car. You must tip the car parker, the car retriever and the luggage carrier guy to and from your room (we tried to just grab a cart and do it ourselves, but were stopped by the helpful staff). There is a $50 charge per day to have your car at the hotel!!! On a side note, they had the best water in the lobby of the hotel - icy cold with floating lemons and oranges and shockingly it was free!

Here we are getting lost.
This is a "pastry" counter for DOGS. You heard me. In fact this entire section of the shop was nothing but fancy dog items!

Did I mention Chicago has marvelous window shopping? We went into Barney's and after browsing and looking at the prices, I found myself needing fresh air and a cleansing trip to TJMaxx.

This is the place that scared me the most on this trip. The American Girl Doll store. The place is enormous and full of little girls with their matching dolls. Do you see the girls below?? We do not know them, but I took their photo anyway.

Here are the dolls. They are adorable, and educational if you actually read the books about the periods they are from, but cost $85 - that's just for the doll and I'm pretty sure she comes naked at that price. The outfits range from $20-$85ish per outfit and then you can buy the matching outfit for your child for another $45-$150ish. The store is as big as a 4 story department store and includes a tea room ($14 per person), hair salon for dolls ($10-$20 per style), doll hospital and a theater! Really, if you are an 8 year old girl, the place is magical. I just can't afford it!

I think I'm going to look into getting Sophie the Target brand knock-off doll!

The hair salon
These are some wealthy Chicago chic mommies outside the store with their huge bags full of doll outfits!
I love Chicago, but I do not see myself be able to go very often!