Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Best Invention Ever...

You may think it's the wheel.  Or penicillin.  Or texting.

You would be wrong.  {especially that last one.}

No.  The best invention ever - is this:

I attempted trysts with Resolve carpet cleaner and even a pricey rendezvous with the Stanley Steamer guy before my relationship with this handsome spot cleaning doctor of love began.  Although these other encounters were not only consensual, but also moderately effective, they cannot compare to my Spotbot Pet.  I shall never love another.  His cleaning powers last.  They are deep.  Me and my margarita-drinking-sitting-on-the-couch-and-watching-this-puppy-do-all-the-work self will never be the same.

It is true love.

The end.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Sports Spectacular Party

Meiners birthday and subsequent birthday parties were a few weeks ago.  As I think back over his birthday parties, I recall a trip to the bowling alley for preschool (why on earth we do [correction: did] friend parties in preschool is beyond me.  Well, at least that three-turns-four year-old one.  Turning five is a whole 'nother ball game IMO, but four?  Four should be relegated to family only.  And that's exactly what we're doing for Sash.  Poor girl.  She's getting jipped.  But c'est la vie.  Momma got wise, Girl.)

Anywho.  I did have a point.

Bowling when he turned 4.

When Meiners turned 5, we did a party at home and waited until June to utilize the backyard slip-n-slide and kiddy pools.  It rained and was freezing cold.

For 6, I took him and a handful of buddies to Chuck E. Cheese at 11:00 on a weekday and then drove them all on to kindergarten.  That was possibly my brightest moment ever.  I had one of those 'buy a kazillion tokens and a pizza for $4' coupons.  Cheap.  No mess at home.  No weather stressing out my I mean their fun.  WHoooowee.  Smart I was.

When 7 came along, I kept telling myself, "I really oughta do something big for Meiner's birthday.  He always gets the short end of the birthday stick."  (Ha - sorry again Sashi.)  Then, of course, I realized he's had a party every year since he was four.  I'm thinking he's been doing just fine.

So instead of making it a big shindig, I just asked him what he wanted to do.  (!!!!)  And God love the kid, he simply said, "A sleepover."

A sleepover?  Nothing gets easier than that.  You order some pizza and throw the kids outside til dark, buy donuts in the morning and call it a party, baby.  Right?

But I had to go and ask, "Meiners, do you want to just play and do your own thing at the party, or do you want something like well I dunno activities?"


Oh poop.

OK.  Activities.  What to do?  What to do?  I twiddled my thumbs and racked my brain. 

In the end, I'm pretty pleased with how the party flowed.  I'm not thrilled with how crazy wild loud a gaggle of active 6 and 7 year-olds can be, but in terms of activities - we chose simple, fun, kid-approved stuff to do.  In the scheme of things, it probably was best to have a series of structured activities planned.  I'm just pleased as punch that everyone seemed to have fun and the whole party was still pretty simple to put together (I tend to like to overcomplicate things most times).

For Meiners' 7th birthday, we gathered immediately for the obligatory group shot (learned from photography books that it's best to get these sorts of things out of the way.  Totally great advice!)

We headed inside for pizza once everyone arrived (before that, they climbed trees and ran around outside). 

Then we headed back outside to play kickball.  {In the street.  *gasp!*}

The kids participated in a homerun derby.

Yes, Meiners' best gal pal won - pretty much all night.  ;)

They enjoyed our first ever pinata.

Note to self:  Ring Pops are not good things to put inside a pinata.

They helped make sugar cookies from a bag.

Meiners opened presents while the cookies baked.

I'm pretty sure that if she weren't a girl, Meiners would admit that E is his best friend.  He's funny like that.
Then I threw them all downstairs to play the Wii while they ate cookies and popcorn and then we sent them to bed!  Originally, I'd planned a movie (Sandlot) but I decided two more hours was more than I could handle.  ;)  {At 12:30 in the morning, we still had two boys up, sneaking through the house.}

The next morning, I made Star Wars pancakes with strawberries and homemade whipped cream and a side of sausage.  Pooks and I took off before the moms came for pickup, but before they left, each kid took home a water-proof volleyball for the pool.  (One big take-away prize instead of a goody bag full of junk we all throw away in the end.  Although they did have a few things from the pinata to take home - a bouncy ball, a sports eraser, and a Cardinals pencil.)

Low cost, low stress, lots of fun.
Meiners' 7th birthday party =  Huge Success

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chocolate and Banana Cupcakes

So I'm going to give you this recipe - because I don't usually alter recipes (I'm not culinarily smart enough to try that), I don't feel eligible to share printed recipes on the blog.  But wouldn't ya know that by eating a banana for lunch, thereby yielding only 3 when the recipe called for 4, I am brought to an altered version of Primrose Bakery's Banana cupake.  And as I mentioned yesterday - the resulting cup of spectacularness was by far my favorite banana cake experience, so I do have to share.  To not share would be a crime.  (They were that goodIn my humble opinion.)


Banana Cupcakes
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
1t. vanilla
1 3/4 c. plus 2T all purpose flour, sifted
2t. baking powder
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/4c. banana puree baby food
6oz. bittersweet chocolate pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pan with 12 liners. 

Cream sugar and butter until pale.  Add the eggs and vanilla, beating after each addition.  Add the flour and baking powder, then beat again until well combined.  Stir in the bananas, baby food puree, and chocolate pieces.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.  Bake 25 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to cooling rack.  Frost with chocolate buttercream once cupcakes are completely cooled.

Chocolate buttercream frosting
6oz. bittersweet chocolate
1c. unsalted butter at room temperature
1T 2% milk at room temperature
1t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Melt chocolate in microwave until smooth.  In a large bowl, beat butter, milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth.  Add melted chocolate.  If it looks too thin when trying to frost, keep beating - the frosting will thicken and improve spreading consistency.

I do wonder if these would be as incredibly moist and tasty with all bananas instead of the puree.  Obviously, four bananas would provide lovely flavor, but my curiosity is piqued over whether the baby food actually provided a degree of moistness - rather like the 'pudding in the mix.'  I guess the only way to find out would be to try the recipe in its original form - four bananas, sans baby food.  I'm on the mindset, however, that once you find something that works, why break it I mean fix it, right?  We shall see. 

In the meantime, next on my list of 'must try' is Primrose Bakery's Lemon cupcakes.  My fingers are itching to bake.  I said I'd take a week off.  I certainly didn't promise anyone.  Maybe I just need to find some new friends to help me eat them.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

another week :: in pictures

Another week has flown by. 

First off, Daddy's home!  Everything is a wee bit happier when Daddy's home (oh heck - it's a whole lotta better!).  He's been traveling a good part of May, so everyone was thrilled to have him back!  (Even Sashi gave him some sugar - and she's usually all mama's girl!)

Of course, cupcakes abounded.  Pookie's book It's Raining Cupcakes contained a few recipes she wanted to try.  I couldn't deny her the chance, so we set about creating "S'mores Cupcakes."  The frosting was tricky - basically buttercream infused with marshmallow fluff - sticky and amoeba-like.  But the cake was delicious and moist.  We'll have to make the cake again!  :P

My sister-in-law gave me Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery for my birthday last week.  And since I had bananas growing ripe on the counter, Sash and I ate one for lunch and then I tried a banana cupcake recipe from my new cookbook after everyone hit the hay!  I soon discovered we should not have eaten bananas at lunch.  I needed 3 and only had 2 remaining.  Should I tell you I substituted half a jar of baby food for one missing banana in the recipe?  (I searched the internet for banana substitutions.  I didn't have applesauce.  Or another banana.  So I ran to Walgreens and grabbed a jar of organic baby food!  {nothing but the best for MY cupcakes!})  Can I tell you it was by far my favorite banana cupcake EVER?!  Oh my gosh it was so good!  Primrose's chocolate buttercream was tasty too!


Those are real Callebaut chocolate shavings on top, too.  (I'm becoming such a cooking snob.)

I also finally tried Southern Living's Mocha Latte Cupcakes (it's a sickness, really).

I loved that the mini cupcakes fit perfectly into my old origami boxes from my stamping days.  How cute is that?  But I am truly taking a week off from baking cupcakes.  I think my friends have had enough of my cupcakes.  And I really can't eat them all myself.  I can't run far enough.

We ended the week at an underground railroad re-enactment...

...and camping!

the world's tiniest frog

It's the last week of school.  I just can't believe it.  You'll find me soaking up quiet time and making summer goals this week.  Hopefully I'll see ya soon!

Monday, May 16, 2011

and then he was seven

Meinie turned 7 on Sunday.  The story I keep sharing with everyone is that the boy asked for sugar cookies from a box mix for his birthday.  I mean, seriously ~ who does that when their mom lives to bake cupcakes?  Well, that would be my second son.  

He is nothing like my first son.  Kevin Leman has him pegged.  And much of that 'second born,' 'middle child' stuff is entirely what makes Meiners one of my all-time favorite people in the world.

 He is care-free.  Yet he is incredibly caring.  And nurturing.  And loving.  Not just fun-loving.

He is spirited and daring, athletic and competitive, but he'll lose on purpose if it means someone he loves wins.

 He is smart and funny and charismatic.  His laugh is contagious and he's a little bit wild.  But still fashionable.

 He is a good friend.  A good brother.  A good son.

He is my number one snuggler, hugger, kisser.  Yet he is all boy.

He likes his hair long.  Sometimes he lets his dad get it cut.

He owns a skate board, a bike, a basketball, a soccer ball, a volleyball, baseballs, golf balls, nerf guns, and he stays by my side while the big kids ride roller coasters.

He eats five waffles in one sitting.  He prefers pancakes.  Sausage PLUS bacon, please.  Can we have pizza?  Bacon pizza, preferably.  And McD's cheeseburgers with bacon have been trumped by BK's double stacker.  (He's a lot like his dad like that.)  He gags on cauliflower.  But he'll eat it.  When I tell him to.

He came to Pookie's 5K Sunday morning to cheer her on.  But absolutely refused to hold the sign proclaiming, "Girls Rock."  His ears turned red and he hid behind his dad when I asked him to let me take his picture with his teacher after the run.

He is the cat's meow.  And I get all teary just sitting here thinking of him not being 6 anymore.  Finishing first grade.  Getting taller and just as lanky.  Looking over tow-headed toddler pictures and wondering what a year will bring.

Knowing I am absolutely, by far, without a shadow of a doubt, the luckiest mom in the world.  Because Meiners in my son.

Happy Birthday Baby Boy. 

Mommy loves you.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Enjoying the Ride...I think.

Pookie took a shot at The Botanical Garden
By tomorrow at 10:00, May will be finished.

Shocking, I know.

Considering it's the 14th.

Next year, I'm boycotting May.

Again.  Shocking.

But May is crazy.  Seriously.  Like hold-onto-your-seats-and-enjoy-the-ride crazy!

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved piece, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‑‑WOW ‑‑ WHAT A RIDE!”

Here's what we've been up to since I last wrote...

Third grade field trip.  I wasn't sure I would make it.  Then my sweet, sweet friend swooped in and watched Sashi for me and I hung out with one of my (other) favorite girls for the morning.

And then that same friend baked me a birthday cake.  Cuz she's awesome like that.  (And it was my birthday!)  The cake was amazing!!!

my birthday lunch.  Y.U.M.!
Spirit week at school.  One day it was, "Mom!  Can you give me 'crazy hair?'"  The next it was, "Can you make me look like a carnival clown?"

Big, very large, gigantickly huge trucks came to tear up my grass and leave this as my backyard.  And now it's raining.  And raining.  And raining.  Fun.

Final strings performance of the year for Pooks and Mr. T. 

Someone decided she wanted to audition for the big time and needed sheet music and a head shot.  Her audition was this morning and she'll know by late Friday.  We left the building with a smile on her face, so it was a win, no matter what.

And someone else has a birthday.  He invited his favorite friends and the decibel level skyrocketed in our house for about 12 hours.  Good grief 5 six and seven year-olds can be rowdy.  But, evidently he enjoyed himself:

Today, in addition to the final hours of the sleepover plus a musical theatre audition, we also enjoyed the school parade and picnic...

This may be my favorite photo ever.
 ...and Meiners' family party. 

Yes.  That IS a bag on Pookie's head. 
No.  I do not know why.

Tomorrow, a 5K run, and then I crash.  And my May is over.  The rest is coasting in to summer.

Aaaaaah, summer. 

Did I mention Daddy was in Dallas all week?



Monday, May 9, 2011

She's a Good Man

Pookie was in a musical production this past weekend put on by a local theatre company.  After a week of rehearsals until almost 10:00 every night and a one hour drive home plus the two performances and a cast party [*breathe*]...we were very glad to see Sunday.

I really wanted to make the whole experience memorable for Pookie.  Last year, her musical theatre class put on a Veggie Tales play.  It was cute.  This year was the big time, though.  Her small class incorporated with the teens in the advanced classes.  So, we gave her the royal treatment.

I asked her to pick a few girls to come to the show and spend the night - knowing it would be late.  She chose, we invited, they ate at Macaroni Grill (Pookie's favorite restaurant), then they saw You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.  Instead of coming home and crashing as I'd expected no hoped, they partied late into the night.

*Note to Self: Next time, friends come to the final show.   {Lesson learned.}

The girls sought autographs (including Pookie's!).

 They asked for photos with the cast {"Charlie Brown was sooooooooooo cute. O.M.G.!"}

We sent them all home with fun souvenirs.  (The chalk board picture frames were my favorite.  No the Charlie Brown cake pops.  No.  They were all my favorite!)

I think they had a marvelous time! {I know I enjoyed watching all of them!}

...A BIG thank you to everyone who came and supported our Star of the Show!

Mr. T - who came to the show instead of accepting their ribbon from the St. Louis County Science Fair
(They won 3rd and Meiners won 2nd at the county)
Grandma and Grandpa!

Grammie and The Littles!

And CJ!
We'll be seeing you at the show!
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