Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Of Safety Scissors and Cake Overload

My little monkeys, otherwise known as Palmer and Brody, sure do know how to keep me on my toes. Motherhood proves to be such a roller coaster ride. I spend the majority of the day amid a jumble of emotions. One moment I am laughing enthusiastically at their silly antics, and the next moment yelling out in frustration. One moment I want to hug and kiss them all over, and only a moment later I find myself wanting to wring their little necks. Parenthood surely stretches individuals to the limits of their love, as well as their patience. The past few days proved to be nothing sort of the wild ride I have come to expect in raising these sweet, silly, energetic, and curious little boys.

This is the work of Palmer and his safety scissors this past Sunday morning. Needless to say, the scissors are in time out for a long time. And Tuesday night he got a Bandaid stuck in his hair that we had to cut out. So he is currently not only sporting one old man balding spot, but two. Thankfully, Auntie Rie was already scheduled to give us all haircuts this coming Wednesday.

This one is the work of Brody and a piece of Pappy's leftover birthday cake just before naptime Monday afternoon. He has recently gone to only one nap a day, and every once in a while it, along with the help of a major sugar crash, catches up to him.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Recipe - Chocolate Caramel Praline Torte

This is the first cake I made for the women in my ward who won my offering of cake for a year at our Relief Society Service Auction. I was unable to join my ward friends this time, since I already had plans that evening to go the the scrapbook expo with my sister and high school friends. I am sad to have missed the fun get together, but look forward to eleven more months of cake eating with my girlfriends. This torte is not only beautiful, but also delicious. It's a great choice when serving company as it is easy to prepare and always impresses.

Chocolate Caramel Praline Torte
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 package devils food cake mix + ingredients listed on cake mix box

1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
cocoa powder (optional)

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and cream. Stir over low heat until butter is melted. Pour into two greased 9 inch round cake pans. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside. Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Carefully pour batter over pecans. Bake at 325 degrees for 35-45 minute or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; invert onto wire racks to cool completely. For topping, beat cream in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff. Place one cake layer pecan side up on a serving plate. Spread with half of the topping. Top with second cake layer and remaining topping. Dust with cocoa powder is desired. Store in refrigerator.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Recipe - Fugi Apple Poppy Seed Salad

My friend Betsy had us over for dinner on Saint Patricks Day. I make her and her boys dinner every so often in attempts to ease her burden since her husband is currently serving in Iraq, and I can't imagine how she does everything on her own with him gone. She said she wanted to thank me by having us over for a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage. When I showed up she, her boys, and the other family joining us were decked out all in green and festive shamrocks. Palmer, Brody and I were party poops; I hadn't remembered it was Saint Patricks Day until after I had gotten all of us dressed for the day, and of course, all our ensembles were lacking the color green. I have been running on empty lately with Greg being gone so much of the time working graveyards (his assigned month of this awful shift has currently been extended *sigh*), and didn't have it in me to get everyone dressed again. So I slapped a shamrock sticker on each of the boys' shirts and just planned to get pinched myself. Brody's sticker didn't even make it through the first half hour of the day. However, I did bring this delish GREEN salad to the meal, so that counts for something right?

Fugi Apple Poppy Seed Salad

1 packaged bag fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced fugi apples
real bacon bits, to taste
slivered almonds, to taste
craisens, to taste
shredded parmesan cheese, to taste
poppy seed dressing

Toss all ingredients, except dressing, together in a large bowl. Serve with poppyseed dressing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Only You...

...prefer to sleep under your bed instead of on it.

...eat all your fruits and vegetables before even touching anything else on your plate.

...like to color with a white crayon.

...give four kisses before bed: one on each cheek, one on the lips and then finish with an Eskimo kiss.

...have to get within one inch of a person's face when having a conversation.

...when asked if you will be good, will honestly answer no when you know you will not.

...get so wound up and hyper that you literally bounce off walls.

...tell everyone you meet that your mom is afraid of spiders.

...can scale our kitchen counters.

...find comfort in sucking your thumb while twirling the hair atop your head.

...can make me want to laugh, cry, scream, and hug you all within a few minutes time.

...live and breathe Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Curious George.

...make friends everywhere you go.

...when told it's time to take a nap, respond with an enthusiastic, "I wake up!"

...sing "shake your boo bet" to the song "Shake Your Groove Thing."

...want a band aid put on your hair when you bump the top of your head.

...are creative, funny, and smart enough to have the following conversation:

Dad: Palmer, where do you get all your energy?
Palmer: From Christmas.
Dad: Oh, maybe I should ask Santa for energy this year.
Palmer: No, you get pants.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Relief Society Birthday Celebration and Service Auction

Last Wednesday we had our Relief Society birthday celebration activity. We served Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner and had a variety of cupcakes (I made these chocolate peanut butter cupcakes) for dessert. We then had a service auction. Sisters donated services and bid on others' services with points they earned from a questionnaire (composed of random questions such as if the sister did her visiting teaching, if she knows how to dance the boot scootin boogie, points for each button she was wearing, etc). It was so much fun! I think it might have been my favorite Relief Society activity yet.

I won a facial from my friend Martha and babysitting from my friend Allison. Sweet! The service I donated to the auction was a year of homemade cakes, or one cake a month for twelve months. The theme of the activity was cake, so of course, I had to provide a service that revolved around that said theme. The bidding for my cakes was a madhouse; everyone was in a frenzy attempting to combine their points with others in order to win. I just love my ward and all my wonderful friends there. They always know how to make me feel special and appreciated. This month I am making caramel praline chocolate torte for the winning sisters. I will be sure to post a picture of the cake and the recipe. In fact, I'm quite certain this blog will be seeing several new cake recipes posted in this next year.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheaper than Disneyland

We had a difficult time trying to decide what to spend our tax refund on. Of course, there is always the frontrunner... debt. We also considered new windows for the house (my number one choice after debt, our electric bill is outrageous due to bad insulation), replacing our furnace (which goes out several times a week in the winter), a new mattress (Greg's number one choice since we both wake up in pain), a swing set for the kids, or a vacation. Since we couldn't come to a consensus, the money went to paying off debt. Which is great because we now have completely paid off Brody's hospital bill from when he fractured his spine, and have once again saved up our emergency fund and are back on the second step of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. Good stuff for sure.

We did splurge on one outing with the money - Disney on Ice. Everytime it comes to Salt Lake we plan to go since Palmer is obsessed with Mickey Mouse, but we always seemed to have other plans or to be short on money at the time. We decided Disney on Ice would be a lot of fun for the kids and thanks to Freebies2Deals and a Kraft Singles wrapper I was able to score the tickets for half price.

Last weekend's Disney on Ice was about celebrations, and what kid doesn't love to party? Palmer was absolutely overjoyed. He watched the whole show with fascination, and laughed, booed and clapped when appropriate. Anytime Mickey was not on the ice, he was asking Greg and I, with true concern, where he was, and everytime Mickey came back on the ice, Palmer's face lit up with a huge smile. He was adorable! Brody on the otherhand was a pistol and refused to sit still on the Trax ride or during the show. The only way to keep him somewhat contained was to feed him, so feed him we did. During the first part of the performance he ate the Lunchable I packed and during intermission we purchased some kettle corn for him to munch on during the second half.

All in all, it was a pretty great outing. Hopefully, in a few years that tax refund can be used towards a Disney trip, but until then, Palmer got to see Mickey Mouse for $50 (totaled from three show tickets, two Trax tickets and a bag of popcorn), instead of $500+, and that is surely good by me.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mi Cocina

We painted our kitchen even before we officially bought our home. The kitchen is the heart of the home, and so I thought it was the perfect room to start making our home ours. I love to have lots of color in a home, and this room is surely our most colorful! We used a picture a convert from Greg's mission painted for him as our inspiration and as a focal point for the room. I did a faux finish on the walls with a chocolate glaze, a paint brush and a lot of elbow grease. It took such a very long time, but I think the results paid off. We removed all the cupboards and painted them avocado green, and also added brown baseboard. The hand painted bowls (which serve as our dining room centerpiece) are from Greg's mom Nancy, from a Mexican cruise she went on. I sewed the curtains over the sink a couple years ago with help from one of my mom's best friends, Joanie. And just a couple months ago, I finally finished my plans for the room by reupholstering the dining room chairs. When entertaining, I enjoy serving fun, colorful, Latin American meals to compliment my fun, colorful, Latin American kitchen. Even our plates and bowls are a complimentary bright orange and green.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Palmer Thoughts

After an evening playing with his good friend Chloe...

Palmer: I play with Chloe
Mom: Did you have so much fun?
Palmer: Yeah!
Mom: Is Chloe your best friend?
Palmer: No.
Mom: Is Kathryn your best friend?
Palmer: No.
Mom: Oh, I know, Davis must be your best friend.
Palmer: Nope.
Mom: Who is your best friend then?
Palmer: Elmo.

As we pass by our church on a walk...

Mom: Palmer, what do you see over there?
Palmer (pointing to the building): Church!
Mom: Yep, that's our church.
Palmer: We go to church today?
Mom: Not today, but we will in a few days.
(Palmer nods)
Mom: We go to church to learn about Jesus.
Palmer: Yeah, and to eat fruit snacks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

It Gets Worse

This is Brody after waking from his afternoon nap later the same day.

No mustered smiles this time. I was actually scared by how lethargic he was being. He had no desire to eat, drink, move around or even complain about it. At this point I vehemently hunted down his doctor to call in a prescription steroid, and then I cried. This evening, after stronger medication, he is still looking about the same, but is acting more like himself.

Polka-dotted Brody

After a very long night of Brody waking every couple hours with killer diarrhea (thanks to the prescribed antibiotic for his ear infection), I awoke to find my little guy looking like so...

covered in hives, or what Palmer described as "polka-dotted Brody." Poor little boy. I don't know if there has been more than one consecutive week this entire winter that he has been well. I took him to the doctor and he thinks it's an allergic reaction to the same antibiotic I have been cursing for the last week. Strange that he had been on the medication for an entire week, and a similar one two weeks before that tried and failed to treat the same ear infection, yet he didn't have a reaction until today. The doctor checked his ears and thankfully they are finally clear and back to normal. So good news that Brody no longer has a painful earache, and round the clock medication induced diarrhea, but bad new that he is now covered in feverish itchy bumps, and feels just absolutely miserable.

He sure is a sweetheart though. Anytime I held up my camera he immediately stopped crying to give me one of his stellar smiles.