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School’s Out for Summer!

13 Jun

Even though we haven’t officially started school yet in our family, we still love to celebrate the beginning of summer vacation.  Technically, my life right now is just one long summer vacation, but summer vacation still means something to us-enjoying being outside, going to the beach and the pool, and seeing friends who have been in school all year. The library in Goldston where we go to story time every week has a huge party to celebrate the end of the school year and kick off the summer reading program.  

Even though it was absolutely sweltering-over 90 degrees by 12:00- we had fun playing in the shade.  Around 130 people came to have hotdogs and ice cream and listen to good music.  There was a cake walk, face painting, and a park ranger who gave the kids some interesting info about animals in our area.  

Maddie checking out the bubble machine.

Maddie checking out the bubble machine.

Ladderball!  This game is a bit nerve-wracking when pre-schoolers are involved!

Ladderball! This game is a bit nerve-wracking when pre-schoolers are involved!

Charlie got a snake painted on his leg-he just loves it.

Charlie got a snake painted on his leg-he just loves it. When Jason got home, he said, “Daddy, there is a snake on my leg.  Don’t worry, it isn’t real.”  

Maddie chose a sun for her cheek.  She doesn't look too happy in this picture, but she really loved it.  When I showed it to her in the mirror she just smiled and smiled.

Maddie chose a sun for her cheek. She doesn’t look too happy in this picture, but she really loved it. When I showed it to her in the mirror she just smiled and smiled.

My friend La'eeqa and her boys.

My friend La’eeqa and her boys.

 

And another friend Nanzetta with part of her brood.

And another friend Nanzetta with part of her brood.

 

Some of the kids enjoying their hotdogs while they listen to the music.

Some of the kids enjoying their hotdogs while they listen to the music.

 

Cakewalk!

Cakewalk!

 

This is one of Charlie's prizes from the cakewalk.  When he puts it on, he really thinks that we don't recognize him!

This is one of Charlie’s prizes from the cakewalk. When he puts it on, he really thinks that we don’t recognize him!

 

I just love my story time group so much.  I have made some great friends through it and the kids have, too.  Today was a great start to our summer!

 

 

 

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Charlie’s 4th Birthday Party!!!

2 Jun

Am I the only one who just cannot believe that Charlie is 4?  His birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but yesterday we finally got around to celebrating with a superhero party!  We had such a great time with our family and our friends.  We are so blessed to be surrounded by people who love us!  When I woke up yesterday morning and started stressing about the party, I just asked Jesus to help make this a special time for Charlie, for everyone to come and just celebrate his little life, and that’s what happened!

The party was themed around Charlie’s latest obsession: superheroes!

Batman and Superman on their favorite form of transportation!  The Batmobile!

Batman and Superman on their favorite form of transportation! The Batmobile!

It's a bird! It's a plane!  It's Supermaddie!  Maddie was really upset when I had to explain to her that she couldn't literally fly.

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Supermaddie! Maddie was really upset when I had to explain to her that she couldn’t literally fly.

Emma and Casey

Emma and Casey

 

Batman and Iron Man

Batman and Iron Man

 

Aaron with a Nerf gun-they had some sort of complicated game they were playing!

Aaron with a Nerf gun-they had some sort of complicated game they were playing!

Sam shooting down Aaron and Nick.

Sam shooting down Aaron and Nick.

 

Superman (John) whacking the pinata

Superman (John) whacking the pinata

 

Noah getting the final hit!

Noah getting the final hit!

 

And Charlie getting in one more for good measure!

And Charlie getting in one more for good measure!

 

We had a great afternoon!  Charlie has been busy playing with all of his new goodies.  Thank you to everyone!

 

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

20 Apr

We are having a wonderful, busy Saturday.  We have been doing stuff around the house today and are just waiting on it to warm up a bit more so we can head outside.

Jason is outside already cleaning up from the awful storms we had last night.  I can hear the chainsaw running-we had several limbs down this morning.  We had to drive to Greensboro last night for a birthday party and had one of the scariest experiences of our lives.  It was storming terribly and we suddenly hit a wall of wind and rain.  Jason slowed down to about 5 miles per hour, but could barely keep the truck on the road.  There were tree limbs hitting the windshield and Jason said, “I think we’re in a tornado.  I don’t know what to do.” I told him to just keep going and maybe we would just drive out of it, so that’s what we did.  When we finally did drive out of the worst part of the storm, Jason pulled over on the side of the road.  I said, “Don’t stop now!  We need to get away from whatever it is!”  The whole time I was praying, “God, just be with us right now.”  I looked back at the kids and their eyes were so big! By the time we returned home we didn’t have power, but it turned back on around 2 this morning.  I am so thankful for those men who work on our power lines on rainy, dark nights!

We are having a baby shower at my church tomorrow afternoon and I decided to make a wreath for a decoration and gift for Chloe, the mommy-to-be.  I think it turned out quite nicely.  Make sure you check out our facebook page if you would like to order one!

This will be so cute on the door of our fellowship hall!

This will be so cute on the door of our fellowship hall!

I also made these tasty chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with white chocolate frosting.  The recipe is from my Cake Mix Doctor book and I changed it a little. They are not too sweet so you can eat at least a dozen at a time!

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes.  You are also getting a sneak peek of our new paint colors!

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes. You are also getting a sneak peek of our new paint colors!

Here’s the recipe in case you want to try these for yourself:

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

1 package chocolate cake mix

3 tbs. cocoa powder

1 1/3 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. vegetable oil (I used canola)

3 large eggs

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 tbs. all-purpose flour

Mix all of these ingredients together until well blended.  Pour into the pan of your choice (I used mini cupcake liners in a mini cupcake pan).  Bake at 350 degrees until done (the mini cupcakes take 16 mins).

White Chocolate Frosting

6 oz white chocoate, melted and cooled slightly

8 oz cream cheese at room temp.

4 tbs. (1/2 stick) butter at room temp.

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 c. confectioners sugar

Mix the butter and cream cheese until combined.  Add the melted white chocolate and blend on low for 30 secs.  Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and blend until fluffy, about 1 min more.

These cupcakes are very rich and not too sweet, and would make really great muffins for breakfast if you added some chocolate chips and didn’t add the icing.  That’s my kind of breakfast!

Symphony Brownies

10 Mar

We are having a potluck lunch at my church tomorrow to celebrate a member of our church turning 94 (wow!) and to welcome our new interim pastor and his wife.  I always enjoy spending time with the wonderful members of my church family so I am really looking forward to tomorrow.

I spent a little time cooking today so I would have less to do in the morning.  It is always a mad rush for us all to get ready and dressed up and out the door in time for Sunday School, so the less I have to do in the morning, the better.  Especially considering the fact that time changes tonight, so we’ll all probably be a bit sluggish in the morning.

I made Symphony Brownies this morning (with the help of my little assistant, Maddie).

She is going to be a genius in the kitchen!

She is going to be a genius in the kitchen!

Symphony Brownies have been one of my go-to desserts for years now.  My mom originally found the recipe from Paula Dean, and we both use it quite often. I have made a few changes over time and think I have finally perfected the recipe!

Symphony Brownies

2 boxes Duncan  Hines Brownie Mix (I prefer the triple chocolate chunk)

3 eggs (2 if you like a more cake-like brownie)

2/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup of brewed coffee

2 Symphony Bars with Toffee (in the blue and white packaging)

Mix the brownie mix, eggs, oil, and coffee just until blended.  Spread half of the mix into a 9×13 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Break up the candy bars into chunks and layer it on top of the brownie mix.  Top this with the other half of the mix.  Cook at 350 for about 45-50 mins.  This takes awhile to cook because it is so thick, so make sure that you check it by sticking a knife or toothpick into it to check for doneness.  I like mine rather gooey, so you may want to cook yours for longer if you would like your brownies more cake-like.

This is the real reason Maddie likes to help out in the kitchen so much!

This is the real reason Maddie likes to help out in the kitchen so much!

Charlie came in to get a little taste.

Charlie came in to get a little taste.

Mixing the Ingredients

Mixing the Ingredients

The 2nd layer-you may want to buy an extra candy bar to eat!

The 2nd layer-you may want to buy an extra candy bar to eat!

Yummy Goodness-so good when they're hot out of the oven

Yummy Goodness-so good when they’re hot out of the oven

I hope these make it to lunch tomorrow!

I hope these make it to lunch tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maddie’s 2nd Birthday Part(y) 3!!!

8 Feb

Ok, I know that this is getting ridiculous!  A 2-year old having 3 birthday parties?  It sounds ludicrous to me, also, but it just had to be done.  I had to have a party for her friends, a party for our family, and a little something on her actual birthday.  It wasn’t much, don’t worry.

She got to wear her fabulous birthday outfit to church, and was so precious even though her birthday onesie did have marker stains all over the front of it.  (I know I wouldn’t be able to get that out.)  You can see my earlier post for shopping details on her outfit if you’re interested.

We came home from church and gave her her birthday present from us: a bike!  We couldn’t decide if we wanted to get her a big-wheel or a real bike, and finally decided that since Charlie has a bike she is always trying to ride, it would just make sense to go ahead and go for it.  Don’t worry-we did get a helmet for that big head of hers, too!

Trying out the new bike!  She hasn't quite figured out how to pedal yet, but she will soon.

Trying out the new bike! She hasn’t quite figured out how to pedal yet, but she will soon.

Then, after Maddie’s favorite meal of chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese, Maddie got to blow out the candles!

Maddie was well-practiced at blowing out candles by this point, so she got them on the first try!

Maddie was well-practiced at blowing out candles by this point, so she got them on the first try!

 

So now, for a few months at least, I have a 2-year old and a 3-year old.  People always get very wide-eyed and look at me like I am a little crazy when I tell them the ages of my children!  Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and I have a similar look on my face……..

 

Maddie’s 2nd Birthday Part(y)2

31 Jan

Hi Everyone!  I hope that everyone is having a great week so far.  We have been very busy this week, so I am just now getting around to posting about Maddie’s 2nd 2nd Birthday party.  It was last Sunday, and this was just a family party.  However, in my family there is no such thing as “just” anything!  Having a party with everyone that is considered family is quite an undertaking.

Our church was cancelled due to “Winter Weather Blast 2013,” so Jason and I had the morning to get ready.  That is, I had the morning to get ready, and Jason had time to research cell phone plans online.

Maddie got dressed up in a special birthday outfit.  It was too cute, if I do say so myself:

Birthday Girl in her tutu!

Birthday Girl in her tutu!

Peek-A-Boo!

Peek-A-Boo!

Maddie's 2nd Outfit-She's such a Diva!!!

Maddie’s 2nd Outfit-She’s such a Diva!!!

The tutu, legwarmers, and hairbow came from the shop that my sisters and I run, Mommy in Bonlee.  You can check us out on Facebook,  http://mommyinbonlee.storenvy.com or http://www.etsy.com/shop/mommyinbonlee.  The CUTE onesie was handmade by Say It N Stitches, at http://www.etsy.com/shop/sayitNstitches.  They do awesome work.  I am really disappointed that Maddie drew all over the front of this onesie with a dry-erase marker.  I know from my teaching days that, no matter how long I OxiClean that thing, it just isn’t coming out.

We had our usual hamburgers and hotdogs, with the strawberry cupcakes making yet another appearance!  You can get the recipe from the link below to my earlier post.

Some miniature cupcakes for the dieters-I think most just ended up eating 3 of these!

Some miniature cupcakes for the dieters-I think most just ended up eating 3 of these!

Finally got to use my cupcake stand!

Finally got to use my cupcake stand!

Maddie loved being the center of attention and having Happy Birthday sung to her.

Love her

Love her

She has him wrapped around her finger!

She has him wrapped around her finger!

Enjoying her cupcakes:

DSC_0051

DSC_0047

Opening presents:

DSC_0078

She tried to carry around all of her new dolls and her new underwear all at once!

She tried to carry around all of her new dolls and her new underwear all at once!

DSC_0075

Maddie loved her new pocketbook from Gramma!

Maddie loved her new pocketbook from Gramma!

 

So, Maddie’s 2nd 2nd Birthday party was a success!  It is always a pleasure to get all of our family together, especially to celebrate such a little sweet blessing as Maddie.

 

 

 

Maddie’s 2nd Birthday Part(y) 1

25 Jan

Can you guys believe that our Madster is turning 2?  I know people say this all of the time, but time sure is flying by.  She is turning into quite a little “thang.”

Due to Mama’s surgery coming up on Monday, we are having Maddie’s birthday celebrations a little early this year, and today was party #1 at storytime.  I didn’t want to have all of her friends over to the house because it is too cold for them to be outside for very long and our house is just too small for 15 kids and their mothers to be wandering around.  The library was the perfect place for a little party.  Plus, I didn’t have to do any cleaning, just a little baking!

Everyone was there this morning, which doesn’t usually happen.  Normally only about half of the storytime group shows up on Thursdays, and I was really happy that everyone was there.  Maddie was happy, too.  She likes being the center of attention.  Here is Maddie when we sang “Happy Birthday.”

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You!

We did a little craft with everyone.  I didn’t want to make a trip to the store, so when I found this on Pinterest and saw that I had all the things to make them, I was pretty happy.  Here’s the link to the original source: http://howtodosomething.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-to-make-snowflake-ornaments-with.html

And here’s a pic of one Charlie and I made yesterday to take as an example:

Snowflake

Snowflake

Everyone had a great time, and it was pretty easy and not too messy!

Friends at the library

Friends at the library

Then we had cupcakes, strawberries, and goldfish.  Our strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing were a huge hit!

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing.

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese icing.

Every year around this time, my stepdad makes a trip to Florida and comes back with tons of fresh fruit and veggies, so we always have wonderful ripe strawberries in the middle of winter.  Everyone is always like, “Where did you find these strawberries?”  Maddie is one lucky girl because she gets strawberry cupcakes every year for her birthday!

It is a recipe from my favorite, most-used cookbook, “The Cake Mix Doctor” by Anne Byrn.  If you do not have this cookbook, you must get it today.  It is wonderful.  But don’t tell anyone that I have it or that you have it.  It’s a secret.  Here’s the recipe:

1 package plain white cake mix

3 oz strawberry gelatin

1 cup mashed fresh strawberries with juice

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup whole milk

4 large eggs

1 cup frozen unsweetened grated coconut, thawed

1/2 cup chopped pecans

*Since this was being eaten by a lot of children, I left out the coconut and pecans.*  Mix together the first 6 ingredients with an electric mixer on low for 1 min.  Scrape sides of bowl, then mix on medium for 2 more minutes.  Fold in coconut and pecans.  Pour into cupcake liners and bake at 350 for about 20 mins.

Frost with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing: 1 package cream cheese at room temp, 1 stick butter at room temp, 3 1/2 cups confectioners suger, and 1/2 cup mashed strawberries (drain well).  Mix together.  You can also mix in 1/2 cup frozen unsweetened grated coconut and 1/2 cup chopped pecans, but I didn’t for this party.

This was a great beginning to Maddie’s 2nd Birthday!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

23 Jan

**There’s a party I’m hosting, and weenies for roasting, and sandwiches fresh from the stove.

There’ll be funny commercials, some plays controversial, and beer will be surely a flow!**

That’s right, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Superbowl time! You may be thinking “wow, this girl is one football fan.” No, not at all!  I am celebrating the end of the season!  The end of Saturday and Sunday long, listening to my husband yell at the tv, don’t you dare change that channel, torture.  It’s a glorious time and requires lots of planning on my part.  This year is going to be a little different because we will actually have guests so, I’ve got to start my party planning!  The menu this season will be as follows:

Ham Delights

ham delights

It’s real easy, you buy a tin of those little dinner rolls that they sell in the bread isle.  Cut it in half, so you have a top and bottom.  Layer with ham and swiss cheese.  Place top half back on (or as some people call it, “the lid.”) Melt 1/3 cup butter.  Mix in 1 tbs mustard, 1 tbs poppy seeds, 1/3 tsp Worcestershire sauce.  Now spread that junk all over the top of them rolls, cover it up in some foil, and bake that stuff for 20 minutes at 350.  Mmmmm.

Mini Pigs in a Blanket

pigs in a blanket

I don’t feel like I really need to explain this recipe, but for those that absolutely have no idea, here it is.  Cheap red hotdogs, crescent rolls.  Cut em, roll em up, bake em.  Yum.

Slut Brownies

Slut Brownies

This is an easy one too.  Pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough.  Layer it on the bottom of a baking dish or pan.  Drop in a layer of oreo cookies, Then you get some brownie mix (the cheap kind), make it according to the directions on the box, and pour that goop all over those oreos.  350, bake it for 30-35 minutes, and mmmm.  I suggest waiting a while to cut them because they will crumble and not be pretty if you do it while they are hot.

(Just a note:  These are not pictures of the food that I have actually made, but it will look exactly like it.  I will post pics of mine in my follow-up blog about how great life is post-football)

We will probably have some chips and dip and I may throw in something fruity, but this is the easiest, best tasting Superbowl menu by far! After all my food is cooked, I like to pull out the nice Wilton Armetale silver platters to serve it on.  Gotta keep it classy!

Birthday Girl on the Cheap!

23 Feb

Maddie turned 1 on February third.  Boy am I glad that it isn’t this time last year!  I read somewhere that it takes a year to get over being pregnant, and I totally agree. The outcome is worth it, though, because Maddie is such a sweet little pleasure to have in our family and I just love her more every day.

This year we are cutting WAY back on our birthday blowouts.  Charlie, lucky boy, has had two major birthday parties with fifty-some people having a meal at our house.  Poor Maddie, the second child, only got a 1st birthday party with immediate family invited (which in my family is still almost 30 people), cake and ice cream, and chips and dip.  It was wonderful!

I had so much fun decorating (Thank you, Pinterest!) and trying out a new cupcake recipe.  I made a really cool cakestand using tulle, ribbon, and my handy-dandy gluegun.  Check it out:

I started making a balloon banner but ran out of steam blowing up balloons, so it ended up as a balloon “chandelier.”  Go to http://www.designmom.com/2011/05/balloon-banner-diy/ for instructions on the balloon banner.  It is really easy.

I also found a recipe for some delicious cupcakes with brownie on the bottom and strawberry cake on top.  Topped with some cream cheese icing, they were really good.  I got it from http://iheart2stamp.com/2010/06/ so definitely check it out and try it.

The finished effect was really pretty, I thought.  The day of her actual birthday we invited a few of her little friends over for pizza, cake, and ice cream and had a really great time, then had family over the next day.  Boy was this a wonderful way to celebrate her birthday.  I really appreciated being able to enjoy Maddie and celebrate this big day in her life instead of running around like a mad woman trying to entertain people who probably didn’t want to be at a 1-year old’s birthday party, anyway!  From now on, “cheap chic” is how we’re doing it! It’s easier on our budget and my sanity!

 

Whatever Happened to Cake and Chips?

18 May

I cannot believe it, but Sunday afternoon we celebrated Charlie’s 2nd birthday.  After Charlie’s 1st birthday party, a stressful event for Jason and me in which we fed hotdogs and hamburgers to 50-some people in our garage since it rained, we vowed that for Charlie’s next birthday party we would be ordering pizza.  We didn’t time it right and Charlie couldn’t take a nap, and it was just plain exhausting. This year, I really wanted to have a nice party that I could also enjoy!  When the time came around to begin planning his party, however, I found myself veering in the direction of another stressful event.

The guest list ballooned to over 70 people as I tried to include all of our humongous, blended families, as well as Charlie’s new friends from storytime.  We decided that instead of pizza, we would use some of the hundreds of hotdogs in our freezer that were left over from a recent fundraiser.  And, my choice of a bubble theme proved to be difficult to shop for.

This could have been bad, very bad, but thanks to the help of my family, and to God, it turned out very well!  My mom gave me a clean house for Mother’s Day, so I didn’t have to worry about cleaning all week.  I spent Saturday cooking baked beans, cupcakes, and chili, and we borrowed tables and chairs from our church instead of renting them like we did last year.  The next day, all we had to do was put tablecloths on the tables, heat up the beans, and cook the hotdogs.  It really fell together nicely. 

I did start to have a nervous breakdown a couple of hours before everyone arrived, and decided that only God could help me at that point.  He kindly reminded me that this day was to celebrate the best thing to ever happen to me-Charlie.  I kept that in mind the rest of the day, and it was wonderful.  We had a great time, the rain held off until that night, and everyone who loves my son most was there to celebrate with him. 

With that being said…next time, we’re ordering pizza for sure!