Friday, March 30, 2012

40?!

Forty posts in one month? Yikes! You can't say I don't give you enough to browse through, people. You've got plenty, ad nauseam. I just thought I should comment to that fact, since it's a first, ever, since I started posting back in March 2007. I actually have a few more posts ready to go, but I thought maybe I should wait until April. Don't want to run out of material:-)...like that will EVER be possible with these crumb snatchers running around.

But thanks family and friends for keeping tabs on us. We love you all!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Summer Wedding

The first wedding of the summer is a Kennedy one. The second wedding of the summer is a Bolger one. This will mark the 3rd time we've had double sibling weddings in the same year ('08, '11 & '12)!!...We figure this could happen three more times in the future...possibly even a triple wedding year. Yikes, right?! ...There are still 6 unmarried/unengaged siblings...The super fun joys of a large family!

Ok, so the engagement pictures for Dale and Lauren are in, and I love them! They were taken at the Botanical Gardens, where we had our Christmas pictures taken too. What fun to have a local wedding!!
Look what was in the paper on Sunday!
Sweet idea

Dale & Lauren will be married on August 4th




Sweet

*heart*
So happy for you Sister, Brother, Aunt, Uncle...and Neighbours!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pinteresting

I saw this idea on pinterest awhile ago. An oatmeal container for headband storage. PERFECT idea. Yesterday I had an oatmeal container empty. YES. With the newly acquired pink spray paint, for Kenna's derby car, I sprayed it a few times (even the inside). Then I cut the rim off the plastic lid and pushed it down inside the can, creating a false bottom that isn't quite so deep. All other hair clips and such are inside. I might want to have a lid also on the top? I'll have to wait for another empty container:-)

I have so many simple quick and easy pinterest ideas that I can't wait to make, once the "stuff" becomes available!! An idea for this one...if you have a pretty fabric scrap laying around (I don't), you could hot glue to the oatmeal container.

Notes

Found this one last night on the table after the kids were in bed, and I couldn't "decode" it. This morning I asked Kenna what it said, and then it was pretty obvious, actually.

Top - the outline of the pencil
SrrEicNt
arrow to flowers
Kenna, arrow pointing to bowl of food on table
No, Yes
Can you read it? Lets add some vowels.

S{o}rr e I c{a}n't

She didn't eat most of her dinner, claiming to dislike it, and would rather starve. Fine by me. But she left a peace offering flower and a "Sorry I can't" note for me. LOL.

That girl is too much!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kids Milestones

Grey has hit that magical age - doubling his height should reveal his approximate adult size. {Brooks came in at 6ft even when he was 24 months, Kenna came in at 5'1" at 18mths, which is the magic age for girls}...DRUM ROLL...Grey comes in at 5'9". It seems he's got Daddy's face and more of Mommy's build, and Brooks is the opposite with Mommy's face and Daddy's build:-)

Grey's build and growth pattern reminds me of my brother Kaden. Massive baby...athletic toddler & build...with growth slowing down instead of maintaining the "big start" they began life with.

GREY at 24mths:  Height 34.5in (49th percentile)
Weight: 30lbs (73rd percentile)

KENNA at 6yrs: Height 43in (12th percentile)
Weight: 42.6lbs (36th percentile)
BMI: 16.2 (healthy)

BROOKS at 4yrs 11mths: Height 43in (55th percentile)
Weight: 43.8lbs (68th percentile)
BMI: 16.4 (healthy)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Derby Car Races

There was an Awana Derby Car race this past Friday at Avalon Hills. We all had fun, I think Brian and the kids especially had fun. It's a guy thing I guess. He mentioned several times how fun it was, and his ideas for next year:-). This year, he was a little short on time, so went pretty simple. Brooks' car made it to the final race with the Cubbies, where he got 4th (last) place. Kenna made it to the semi-final race with Sparks where she got second, losing to her buddy James, who won the whole thing in the final round.

Kenna's car did an amazing feat in the semi-final race...she was on the green track, and it hopped quickly and cleanly onto the yellow track halfway down, and finished the race in second place (beating the car that was supposed to be in the yellow lane). They re-ran the race again, due to that little mishap, but it was pretty cool!
He's got a great seat and loved the races!

Can you guess who's car is who's? :-)

Summer Lovin' - Recipe

Well, I adore iced coffee, or the "take home" Starbucks frappucinos in the glass bottles. Pretty much the only time I ever buy them is when I get a $3.50 off coupon from Costco, bringing the cost of a case down to $10.99. I find this a do-able cost - although this still remains a very rare treat.

I've tried many at home recipes for iced coffee, all claiming to be the best ever. I have been sorely disappointed. Let me just say anything requiring a cheesecloth, 100 hrs of time invested and twice that many steps is NOT the best ever. It's a doggone pain in the butt. I thought, no wonder why it costs so much - and it's not really even comparable, taste wise, to something you buy at a gas station or in a bottle.

I let a friend figure it out for me:-) I finally got around to trying her version of the drink...again, claiming to be awesome...but this time, I almost believed it. Only 3 ingredients! I had them all in my cupboard. I didn't need to strain anything overnight with a cheesecloth. Amen.

After finally trying it - THIS ONE is the best ever. The taste is better than other at home versions I've tried. And it's so easy!! Gina does a great job with the how to steps on her blog. I'll sum up here. She made a "healthier" caffeine free version, by using skim milk and fat free sweetened condensed milk. I used what I had on hand, (caffeinated) Nescafe instant coffee, sweetened condensed milk and 1% milk.

I suggest making it once in a glass and tasting it, to make sure the flavour/ratios suit you, and then mass produce it, putting into mason jars, ready to go when you need them!

1 spoonful of instant coffee in glass (I used the larger "soup spoon" size spoon)
fill about 1/3 full of water, heat in microwave for 45 sec to 1 min to dissolve coffee
add 3 spoonfuls of sweetened condensed milk (same spoon as above)
fill with cold milk
stir/shake/enjoy! If drinking instantly, pour over ice. Otherwise, store in fridge until ready to drink. Either enjoy as is, or add ice!

I made one glass, was thrilled with it, and then made 6 more...so 1 can of sweetened condensed milk makes about 7 servings or so. Delicious!!
putting them in jars allows for an easy shake 'n go system. Love it!
So speaking of drinks in jars...my next big party is having this, for sure. Lemonade, sweet tea, water...hey, even iced coffee, since it's so cheap to make! Cutest/coolest idea ever, right?! I've already got that exact metal tub (former renter left it upstairs. Yay!). Can't wait to try this.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lunch

While preparing lunch, Brooks instructed me no less than three thousand times that he wanted his bagel, with cheese *NOT CUT*. Do not cut it. Just leave it. I don't want it cut. Not cream cheese, just regular, not cut. The orange kind, but not cut...You get the idea? I certainly did. So I served him this:
Mom! I can't eat that, it's a huge block! We decided it was best for Mom to decide how to make lunch, and keep our suggestions to ourselves. As I took it away to prepare it properly, he said

"That was so humiliating! I can't believe you thought I could eat that"

I live to keep you humble my boy:-) Thanks for the lunch time laugh!


Tee Ball

The kids started tee-ball yesterday. So cute:-) Practice on Thursday nights, games on Saturday mornings, although these first few weeks we have practice on both those days, and Easter week off.
Our leftie. She doesn't really *want* to play, she tells me, she'd rather do gymnastics or ballet. She doesn't quite believe me that baseball is a useful skill, even for girls:-) Unfortunately for her ballet career, we can't swing having her take lessons while I have all these extra kids everyday.

It gets a little boring being the "glover" (which is what they call the fielders:-)

Somebody got into the equipment

He's very excited to play!

On his brand new Thomas birthday chair! Perfect for watching Brother & Sister play ball!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Heart


Fresh & Refresh: 2013

Well, about a month ago now, I posted a facebook status about Kenna's reaction to her mac & cheese lunch, and my encouragement: "This is not the disappointment of a lifetime. It's lunch. React appropriately"

My good friend Audra commented that it reminded her of something her Mom said to her when she was five: "If you think this is heartache, just keep on living" (I will SO be using that one someday! As Audra said, perhaps a little harsh for five...but true:-), so this started a "comment conversation" between us old friends (also including our pal Erika). After 20 or so comments, another old friend jumped into the convo (obviously spying on us, haha;-P) and said our convo reminded her of the good old days...like she was listening to us chat in the finance office. So that started us on an old HQ tangent...

I (and all in that convo), worked for Bill Gothard at his headquarters in Chicago for many years. We started joking and laughing and teasing...Erika, perhaps regretfully, comments "That's it, we need a reunion". (That status generated 70 comments!)

That was like waving a magic wand! Reunion? Done! Sandi got the ball rolling with a "secret" fb group...within days there were 1100+ members, all excited for a chance to get back together again. And now we have an un-secret fb page too:-)

So I am on a planning committee of 12 people, in charge of getting this thing off the ground. I know most, but not all of those 12. So far we work well together, and we're all pretty opinionated:-) I will not spill the beans about everything that is in the works, but this will be awesome, promise.

 So far we have settled on the following details: This reunion is open to anyone who worked at any training center for ATI or IBLP in any era and will be a family friendly affair. This reunion is in no way associated with the Institute in Basic Life Principles or any of it's affiliations. We just all happened to have met there. Will the Duggars be there? Nah. They haven't served in training centers, even though they are currently in ATI. I'll guess we'll have to miss our chance to be on TLC:-)

Don't you love how our logo goes from navy & white to full colour? Perfect!
We have a title, and a logo...and after extensive polling...a location! Chicago, 2013. We have members of the planning committee flying to Chicago in a few days to check out and secure our reunion location,  I can't tell you about the exact date or location yet...but it'll be great!

The logistics for pulling off something this huge, and with all of the things we have to consider...it'll be no small feat, let me tell you. But we're all experienced. Hey, we did this for twenty thousand people every year when we were in our late teens and early twenties...how hard can it be now? :-) And yes, more than one person suggested we rent out the University of Tennessee again. For old times sake. No thanks.

Obviously it's way far away, but I'm sure I'll update a little here and there as we plan away. The first major hurdles were location and date, and we've got that one well under control. We think.

Let the good times roll.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's a birthday!

He chose his own birthday cereal: mostly because of the Grey wolf on the box. Aaaaaoooooo!

Happy Birthday big boy! He chose his own dinner too, pee-da (pizza) with peppa (pepperoni) and sue-da (soda)
Here is the happy birthday song
video

Group hug on the "snuggle couch"

Fun times with Daddy

Grey's Cupcakes - Recipes

Grey's birthday cake in honour of the Lion King. Rawr. Aren't they cute? I wish I'd bought mini m&m's for the eyes - or just used icing...but I'd already bought the regular kind, so we used them, although a little large:-)


I made the cupcakes from scratch, and they were perfect!! Winning! I got this recipe from Sonny's grandma. It was flavourful, moist, light...everything I love in a cupcake! Although there is coffee in it (I used decaf:-), you can't taste it even a little. I will be using this recipe again and again.

Grandma's Moist Chocolate Cake


2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup hot coffee
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add oil, coffee & milk; mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla; beat 2 more minutes. (batter will be thin) Pour into 2 greased and floured 9-in. x 1-1/2 in. cake pans (or 2 8 in. cake pans and six muffin cups) Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Cool cakes 15 minutes before removing from pans.  Cool on wire racks 
**this made me 24 cupcakes and they were perfect at 325 for 17 minutes.**

Darling Boy

"Beautiful Boy, out on the ocean sailing away, I can hardly wait to see you come of age. But I guess we'll both just have to be patient. Yes, it's a long way to go, but in the meantime, before you cross the street, take my hand..." John Lennon
I snapped these pictures yesterday, during your nap. It's your very last nap as a one year old. And that makes me a little sad.

You are a beautiful boy. We are very blessed to be entrusted with your life.
No matter how big you get, I think I'll always choose to think of you like this: my baby boy
You've always had big hands. But they aren't so chubby anymore.
A few more pictures from your last day as ONE. I'm sure you're glad to be growing, but all 4 of us will always wish we could go back in time, and have you one forever.
We all love you! Happy last-official-day-as-a-baby. Tomorrow you're a toddler. The day after that, it will seem - you'll be a man.

We found the pockets:-)

Roses & Icing - Video

Here is a short how to video about how I made the roses on the raspberry custard cake from the other day:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bathroom Reveal

It's about TIME, right??!! The bathroom has been done for so long, its really not new anymore:-) I was waiting to post pics until it was 100% done. I have decided to consider my custom-made-by-Brian medicine cabinet...phase 2. Since that is the only thing that isn't done.

In case you never saw my original bathroom, click here and watch the video. I didn't do a good job of "before" pics, because we made a very split second decision to bust it all up when presented with another plumbing problem.

Problems with old bathroom: 1. Room is narrow (can't fix that), old vanity was too large, making it a very skinny entryway (you can see that in the video) 2. plumbing pipes were old and clogged under the house. 3. no fan, so a musty room/mold issues in shower 4. very minimal lighting present, and a "daisy chain" outlet that was not grounded (you had to have the light on for the plug to work)

If you click on the renovations label, and scroll back a bit, it will take you through the journey. Basically, we gutted everything down to the crawlspace below (no floor at all!). There are currently only THREE things that remain from the original bathroom. 1. the chrome trash can 2. the hooks on the closet door 3. the hooks on the main door. (The closet interior was not altered, other than the flooring laid. The main door and closet door were also not replaced). Everything else was purchased new from the materials to the finishes.

Brian said that if he were pricing this job, it would have cost $6000 to $8000 MORE than what we spent (for the exact same finishes). However, he said it is important to note that with that price, it would have been done better with regards to the finishes (and faster, haha!!). He is not a "tile guy" even though he can do it (which he did), he sees the imperfections that would not be there if left to a true professional. BUT, since we did this with our very little tax return money, we did all the work and it turned out great. It's beautiful and functional!
A view from the hallway. We corrected the issue of having a narrow entryway by choosing a sink that "floats" off the wall. Basically just an uber cool pedestal sink that doesn't take up much space. It creates space, actually, and visually...but it lost us storage with no vanity. Window improvement: Instead of hanging a curtain back up, we decided to frost the glass of the lower 6 window panes. We used something that you cut to size and rub on. Worked like a charm!
A "splurge"...shower or body sprays! I was resistant to the idea at first, due to cost, but Brian was able to plumb it in for minimal material cost, and we scored a fantastic deal on ebay for the chrome body sprays (all 4 for $80), so I really couldn't complain of the cost in the end. The most expensive part was the handle to turn then off/on...it was $150. Yikes! All in all though, sooo worth it. We love them! It makes a steam shower effect in our little bathroom, and also makes for a great double shower when pressed for time without having to cycle in and out of the water. This is considered a "pricey" upgrade to a bathroom, and this is when it's handy to have such a skilled husband! (making it not so pricey)

 We put recessed water proof lighting in the shower. We can see! The ceiling is like a stiff plastic thing (like the plastic tub surrounds) so it wipes clean easily and doesn't build up mold

Water in action!
I found the floating wall shelving at Bed Bath & Beyond, it was $30 for all three shelves. We got an oval beveled mirror from Lowes, mirror lighting from Lowes, and recessed lighting in the main room too. It's very bright in there! We also have a FAN. A huge improvement. Another improvement is a secondary crawl space access and a clean out line (or something like that - I am SO not a construction person), outside for handy access in case of future backups or plumbing issues.

Molding...we went with a pretty thick molding, but eventually as we upgrade the rest of the house, we'll do the same throughout so it'll all match. You can see it surrounding the closet in the reflection of the mirror.

We did a Travertine floor with the chrome "slueter strip" (that is what Brian calls it?) around the border edge (that silver rounded strip between the tile and painted wall). The shower is porcelain tile (or was it ceramic? I forget which is "better" now, but we got the better one, I think that is porcelain)

This is how we dealt with the lack of vanity storage...we used to keep our towels on a shelf in the closet. By having the towels out here on shelves above the toilet, the closet shelf was empty and ready to hold all the vanity items. I purchased 9 bath towels and 3 hand towels. Because that amount fits great on my shelves, and because thats about all we need for a week+ worth of showers without doing laundry.

Love these! They are perfect for setting things on, since our sink can't do that

Awesome sink. Love it! The stool is for the kids to easily reach without "pulling up" on the sink, as it is anchored to the wall...but I'm sure they could pull it off somehow! They've been thoroughly educated on the etiquette of our new sink. The "table" there is something we already owned (foyer/telephone table). This is the location that my custom made medicine cabinet and counter will go. For now, this works like a charm!

So you must know I super cleaned up the bathroom for all of the above pics!! We can't live like that everyday, it's our only bathroom. We just fake it like that when guests come over:-) Here is a pic of a daily living scene...
Shelves hold soap, toothbrushes, hair clips etc. The hooks hold our towels, bathrobes, a hairbrush, a straight iron...you can even see the cool night light plugged in too (the kids love it!)

Potty seat, ready for action! Little table will one day be replaced, but for now serves it's purpose nicely!
Here is my conceptual drawing for Brian (so he makes it right) of Phase 2. The medicine cabinet/counter. You can see my front view and side view drawn there. The top part will be a medicine cabinet (similar depth to a typical one, just taller and thinner), it will connect down to a counter like surface (similar in size to current table), and then under the counter will have open shelving for decor (candles) or baskets with items inside
All in all, we feel like we made the best choices we could, got the best deals we could and are very happy with the results. It serves our needs very well!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Raspberry Custard Cake

My friend Chae had her 30th birthday this week. A few friends got together this afternoon to celebrate...and we decided to make a meal of all her favourite (current) cravings and food obsessions (she's pregnant!). It was a fun and yummy time (with filet mignon, cooked to perfection!)...my contribution to the meal was a cake. Her all time favourite cake. She buys it from a local bakery...this is the link to it. Yumm!

In doing some covert reconnaissance (this was a surprise party), I found out that she loved the cake, however, the buttercream icing was a little "much" and was a little too sweet.

So I endeavored to make my own version of this cake for her party, and make it a little bit better. I read tons of google recipes, and decided on this one for the custard filling.
Filled and ready for the crumb coat!
It was a perfect recipe, and I loved it! Ok, so here's the how to: 2 boxes of Duncan Hines French Vanilla Cake. - divided into 4 parts (but I only used 3). Custard filling on the bottom layer, raspberry jam (mostly seedless preserves, with a small amount of regular -with seeds- preserves). The real version has seeds, but not too many. Combining the two was perfect I think. I didn't mix it with anything else, I used it straight from the jar.
Then for the icing. Since Chae said buttercream was too much, I wanted something lighter, but still sweet. Didn't want it to be too custard-y and blah. I found this recipe on a yahoo chat board, and it was almost a disaster...my changes to the original recipe in BLUE...

Mock Whipped Cream Frosting with Pudding Mix
4 tbsp. flour (2T cornstarch)
1 c. milk
1/2 c. margarine (butter)
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar (approx 5 C icing sugar, possibly more)
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. instant pudding mix (any flavor desired) (vanilla, and about 3T)


Combine flour and milk in saucepan and cook over LOW HEAT until thick, stirring constantly. Cream the margarine, shortening and sugar together for 4 minutes. (Can use all margarine if desired).
Add cooled flour mixture and vanilla; beat an additional 4 minutes. spread on cooled cake. (Basically, it was NOT sweet and kinda gross with only 1C icing sugar, I just kept dumping it in until it tasted good)

When making a "rose" on a cupcake, you start on an outer edge and swirl into the center. For this cake, I started in the middle and swirled to the outer edge.

It was really pretty!!
At the last minute (right before serving it), I melted eight 1oz squares of semi-sweet bakers chocolate and poured it over the top and let it run down the sides (like on the real one!). It was SOOO good. Chae (and others) said it tasted just like the real thing, but BETTER because the icing was better. Wahoo! Cake success. Nothing like trying to make a fave and coming up short, so I was glad this one was a yummy success!
Truly delicious. Make this cake for a party, and you've got friends. It's SO good!