Friday, September 27, 2013

Currently.

This last weekend we celebrated Monkey's 4th birthday. I cannot believe how quickly this is happening. I want to slow time down so I can enjoy each new stage and really soak it all up. Most days I feel that way, then there are others but, most days I would keep him this age for years.


I am so making this next week and this and this. My poor husband never knows what he is coming home to when it comes to dinner.


I am finally embracing Fall but I just can not get into pumpkin in my coffee. Le ewww! However, salted caramel mochas always come out the same time as pumpkin lattes and those my friend, are the bisnaaaasss!


Speaking of Autumn, I can't tell you how happy I will be to get my boots out! But I'm in the need of a new pair I wore my favorite pair last year so much they're showing a lot of wear. I can't decide but I'm thinking something like these or these or these. You know maybe I need to stopppp with the combat trend and move towards booties like these or these as my go to fall/winter shoes. I also really really really want these but can find no justification for them in my wardrobe.


I cut 12 inches off my hair just over a week ago and you know what I FREAKIN LOVE IT! I mean, sure I miss a giant messy bun on top my head sometimes but I love how quickly I can style my hair. Now if I can get the bangs grown out and  my color done I will be one happy camper.


This post is exactly what I needed the other day. I try so hard to be everything for everyone and justify myself and why should I? Why should you? Be the best Mom/parent for your kids be the best you and stop worrying what other parents or people think! 


So yeah, life around these parts has been pretty much same old same old, except one little thing. One teeny weeny, itty, bitty MAJOR HUMONGOUS thing! My Brother-in-law is back from deployment. We couldn't swing a trip to visit when he got back and well, we thought he may want some alone time with his wife first! I know for a fact she needed some time with him before we bombarded them with all of our craziness! But we are all happy and relieved he arrived home safely and I have two boys who can't wait for some Unc time!

Yep, so that is it.. What have youuuu been up to currently? 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Toasted Coconut + Lemon Tres Leche Cake


If you follow me on Instagram you have already seen this video earlier this month. So you may already know that along with  help from my little Monkey Man, we made a Tres Leche Cake but what you didn't see was it getting topped with ooey gooey lemon curd, fresh whipped cream and toasted coconut! We made it to take to a cookout at my Nana's, I also took a chocolate pie and my sister made some ooey gooey butter bars that were amazing and some sprinkle sugar cookies that my kids loved. Food, as always, was the best!  Maybe one day Lee can learn to do what ever kind of magic my Dad has over the grill. :)



Back to the cake! I've been dreaming of a tres leche cake for sometime now and finally settled on this combo but I've thinking of making a chocolate version that may include dulce de leche. I can't wait! But in the mean time, this little guy was pretty fantastic and EASY! Considering my four year old did most of the work on the cake. Easy and delicious, what could be better?



adapted from: Shutterbean

For the Cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup a/p flour

1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
1 (14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cup whipping cream (heavy cream)
1 cup lemon curd
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 9x13 baking pan with generously butter and set aside. Whisk egg whites, baking soda and and salt until stiff peaks form. (I used a stand mixer but a hand mixer would be fine and if you are looking for a work out this could be done by hand also) Beat in yolk on low speed once combined gradually start adding in your sugar. Fold in remaining butter, then coconut and lemon zest. Gradually fold in flour 1/4 cup at a time. Pour into pan and bake 18-20 minutes. 

While cake is in the oven, in a large measuring cup or medium bowl combine your three milks and set aside. Once cake comes out of the oven use the back of a wooden spoon or a fork pierce the cake several times, the more wholes the better it absorbs. Immediately pour milk mixture over and let sit until pan is cool to the touch, then top with curd and refrigerate for 5 hours minimum. While oven is still warm spread coconut out in a thin layer on a baking sheet, toast the coconut for 5-8 minutes. Do NOT leave it. Once it is golden brown remove it, it will burn int the blink of an eye. Let it cool at room temperature. Once the chilling time is up and you are ready to serve, whip your cream to soft peaks and top cake. Sprinkle coconut on top. 

Enjoy!!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mickey Party Part 3: Recipes and other fun




These are some of the recipes we used. I don't have links to all of the yet, but I will get them and update the post as soon as I do. We simplified this year by only having desserts on the menu. All of these recipes are really easy and most can be made in advance. You can freeze cakes and frosting, jello will keep for day before hand and cookie dough can be frozen as well.  

My boys love cupcakes, then again, what kid doesn't?As I mentioned before I wanted to simplify and I knew most of the kids wouldn't be able to tell the difference between cakes made from scratch and boxed mix so my Mother in Law made the cupcakes with a strawberry cake mix and I topped them with this Swiss Meringue Buttercream that I had frozen left from Liam's birthday dinner, I added a teaspoon for strawberry extracts and red food coloring and topped them with red sugar.


Once again, we had jello. We've had it in some form at Caleb's 2nd and 3rd birthday parties also. We used Food Librarian's Finger Jello Recipe (again) except we used Pineapple Jello and Strawberry Jello to make it in our color palette. 





If you know Caleb you know that boy LOVES doughnuts so we made Fudge Doughnuts (recipe to follow in a separate post) and Cherry Lemonade Doughnuts. I made a double batch the the recipe and baked it in a full size doughnut pan for about 8 minutes. I made the glaze thinner as well but that is just my preference. These doughnut are delicious and I high recommend them! 








Caleb asked for an orange cake and I don't have the exact recipe to share since my Mom made it out of a few different recipes but it was a white cake with orange zest and orange extract with orange curd between the layer and a basic buttercream scented with orange zest and orange extract. It would be an easy thing to replicate with your favorite cake recipes and you could use this lemon curd and swap lemon juice and extract for orange.  










My Mom made these cookies. I know they were a cream cheese sugar cookie and they were delicious! But, I don't know what recipe she used on these either but when I find out I'll update and post it. We got the cookie cutter from The Disney Store














The punches were a Berry Lemonade and a Pina Colada Punch that was similar to this. The lemonade was a mix (simply because of sheer volume needed) with frozen berries stirred in that flavored it as they thawed.




Well, that is it for the food. This year was pretty simple. Of course most of the fun came in the form of the bouncy house. We love having it and so do the boys. We also love that my in laws do that for the boys as their birthday gift too. We may need to start looking into investing in one since we would be a third of the through paying for one by now. :) I believe the conclusion is that we need a slide next year though and as much as I hate to admit it, I have to agree. Although that injured back of mine did not love me after I got out of that thing, it was worth it to play with my boys. 

 It's hardly noticeable but I used my other Ikea end table by the bouncy house as a place to for people to leave their jewelry, glasses, drinks, etc and to store shoes underneath. I also placed another sigh that said Liam's and Caleb's Playhouse. I'll be making blank or generic forms of those signs and posting as PDFs soon. Then I will be done posting about the party, finally. :)

***UPDATE: for more info on the party look here, here and here

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mickey Party Part 2: Photobooth


We had so much fun with the super hero masks and toys last year I decided to do a photobooth this year. This particular picture is my favorite of our family shots. It is so us. Me tuning out the craziness, Caleb making faces, Liam doing anything that he isn't supposed to do and Lee trying to manage it.


For the prop station I brought my old cheap Ikea end table and some baskets from around the house out into Mom's yard and set it up next to the back drop. We found a photobooth kit at Party City, snagged some hats, beads and big sunglasses from the dollar store and picked up some mini chalkboards from a hobby store my Sister made the Mickey ear headbands. I'll post a PDF of the the sign at a later date as well. 

For the backdrop we used three $1.00 plastic table cloths from, you guessed it, the dollar store and black curling ribbon tied between limbs of a tree. We hung it the night before and it stayed just fine we hung a banner the next day but I forgot to snap a picture of the finished back drop but I do have a picture of another banner and you can get the same idea. My sister cut those out too. I just made a template out of cardboard and grabbed any scrapbook paper I had in red, black, yellow or kraft paper, printed and solid. We punched holes in the ends and strung and hung it the day of. 


After you've got that taken care of then the only thing left is to have fun! 
***UPDATE: For other info on the party check out this, this and this***.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Currently.


Yeah, so, I've been a bit absent lately. My bad. But I was doing this. That and being sick, again. You know what? I'm over it, not the party, the being sick thing! Anyway, moving on. Oh, and if anyone who went to the party has any pics of the boys blowing out candles send the to me please!!!! I forgot the change the setting on my camera and they were too bright and blurry.

You. Must. Make. THIS! I mean seriously! Make it! We had them last week and I have been craving them since. I foresee them being added to my menu for this week too.

And these! Oh yeah, they're are happening!

I'm starting my plans for another homemade Christmas. When you make majority of your gifts you have to start early. I may have already been listening to A Very She and Him Christmas to get myself in the mood. And with that I realized I turned into my mother...

I cannot wait for my shows to come back! I've managed to go through all 9 seasons of CSI NY and I'm half was through CSI Miami and re-watched How I Met Your Mother beginning to end this summer. I've been high-fiving people a lot and saying Legendary way too much. It's time to watch something new.

Okay, am I the only person that isn't ready to let go of summer produce? I'm so over the heat and can't wait for fall weather but I am not ready to turn my watermelon, peaches, tomatoes and cucumbers loose! My husband on the other hand, is so excited for butternut squash, pumpkin and apple season he can't stand it. I made the menu for the next two weeks last night and I have a couple of summery salads listed and I asked him for requests and he asked for my Thai Butternut Squash Soup, clearly we are NOT on the same page.

Also, how weird am I that I am whining about the end of summer yet I am eagerly making Christmas plans?

My little dude asked to have his hair cut short last weekend. He's always wanted to grow it out but he got so hot in the bouncy house at his birthday party he was OVER IT! So my mom cut it off for him a couple of days later and well, I love it and I hate it. He is always so handsome and the style is much more versatile but now he looks like a little man and that is not okay with me!

Speaking of cutting off hair, I'm seriously considering chopping mine off. Of course but chopping it off I mean not shorter that shoulder length. When your hair hangs all the way down your back that's a lot to cut! If I do I'll be donating it. I've been growing out my hair for 5 years and I love it, but now is so long it won't hold any curl it has no shape and I think its making me look older, and we cannot have that! Look my age or dress my age, NO WAY! So I'm on the hunt for a new do but I think I want to go outside my comfort zone! I will be dying it for sure probably super dark but I really really want to add dark purple to the bottom. Apparently my brain didn't get the memo I'm now 30. Yikes!

Oh and at 13 months my little Doodlebug has finally decided that after two months of faking us out he is really going to walk! He's been taking several steps at a time for the past two days. It's been all in his head that he couldn't. He obviously had the balance and muscle tone seeing that he could stand and bounce unassisted for 5 minutes (yes we timed him) at a time but he would panic and lunge at us knowing we would catch him to stop him from slamming his head onto our hardwood floor. Needless to say I am one proud Momma!

I'll be back tomorrow with a Photobooth post and hopefully again on Thursday with recipes from the party. If all goes according to my plans the next couple of days. Which translates to if the heathen nap like they are supposed to!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mickey Mouse Party Part 1: The Table Decor

  Last weekend we celebrated both boys' birthdays with a Mickey Mouse theme.
I'm quite happy with the outcome. 


 This post is just a few shots of the table.  I'll post links and recipes next week and post about the photo booth as well. I'm also planning on making blank version of the menus in PDF form for download soon, along with blank mustache menus too. 



We did this party on a shoe string budget but I still feel like it turned out amazing. It does help I have an arsenal of craft supplies already. I had the kraft paper and black paper to make the banner and polka dot streamers. I used foam core from a dollar store to make the Mickey silhouette. I owned the picture frames, the baskets, cake plate and platters already. The black tablecloth is a random queen sized sheet that I've been using as a tablecloth for a couple of years. The boys had that Mickey Mouse in their toys. The streamers, plates, napkins and forks came from a dollar store and that little bucket was found in the Dollar Spot at Target, along with the wrapping paper I used for the table runner. 


To make the polka dot sreamers I (by I, I mean I begged my husband to do it since I was busy) used a one inch circle punch and about 5 sheets of black card stock to punch the circles and stapled them onto black curling ribbon. It was a totally free craft for us but even if you had to buy the stuff the cost would be minimal. 

To make the Mickey, we traced a large circle and two smaller circles onto foam core, we used a large toy bucket that normally holds building blocks and one of the buckets from Caleb's sand toys. We used a knife to cut it out, sand paper to smooth the edges and touched them up with black paint. Once we were ready to assemble, we laid out the circles and traced the curve of the of the big circle along the smaller ones so that they would fit onto the curve like ears. Then we attached them by inserting toothpicks and running a line of glue and pressing them together. Once he was dry we punched a couple of hole in his ears and hung him by tying with black curling ribbon. This project literally cost $2.00 and it was so easy. 


And the very last thing is the drink table, it was no biggie and nothing special. We had a bronze bucket of ice on one side and a wash tub of bottled water on the other. The small bucket for the straws came from the Dollar Spot at Target and the large glass containers came from Target as well, my Mom and I use them to store our flour and sugar. I already had the gingham fabric from the table cloth and we bought cheap cups and straws from a dollar store. 
Well, that's the basics of the table decor. Hopefully you can draw some inspiration for a festive party on a budget by just keeping your eyes peeled for good buys and looking at things you already own in a different way.

*** UPDATE: For more info on the party look here, here and here. ***