Daisy Singing in the Rain

I think most of us are in agreement that this summer was pretty crappy weather wise. It was either a thousand degrees or raining. Most of us are glad it’s finally fall and some clear, crisp weather should be on the way. While she hasn’t specifically told me, I don’t think my Daisy is one of these people. Not only did she not mind the rainy weather, she enjoyed it. She’s sit and watch at the window and sing “Rain, Rain, Go Away,” but if I’d let her, she’d gladly play in the rain.

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After the rain, the kids insisted that it was OK to “splash in muddy puddles.” (Thank you, Peppa Pig). They’d put on their raincoats and too big boots and try to see how high they could get the water and mud to splash up their legs.

Even better than the puddles was the rainbows afterwards. If not for their excitement, I’d have probably missed 90% of the rainbows. One of the perks of being a parent if rediscovering the everyday things we might take for granted with age.

Jack likes all the after rain fun, but playing in the rain isn’t really his style. He’d rather be dry and comfortable inside. Daisy loves the rain. She laughs and squeals and dances in the rain, singing her heart out. I love watching her outside. She loves the rain so much that if she hears someone in the shower, she demands on joining in so she can play in the falling water.

Daisy’s 2nd birthday was a few weeks ago. The plan was to have her party as our final summer bash around my parents’ pool. Her favorite movie is Hotel Transylvania, and the newest movie in the HT series is a summer vacation. I thought it was a perfect theme. Instead it rained. It was only fitting that my baby who loves the rain have her birthday party rained out. She still danced with a pink umbrella and ran out on the lawn in the drizzle. She didn’t care that I wouldn’t let her swim, but she did care when I saw lightning and tried to get her to come inside.

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The other day it was raining as we left my parent’s house. Matt took Daisy and Jack to the car and me Daphne. Daisy, instead of going to the car, ran to the middle of the lawn so she could dance, spin, and touch the rain. I heard her singing to herself as she twisted her tiny hands around in the air, catching the drops. As we ran for cover, she was just enjoying the weather. Matt ran over laughing and scooped her up, but I wish I thought of taking a little video or a photo of her pure joy.

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Right now, she is all joy and happiness. Her biggest concern is when her brother won’t share a toy or I can’t instantly pick her up because I’m nursing her baby sister.
Why don’t we all dance in the rain? I know we see those cheesy pillows and picture frames that tell us to, but we never actually do it. It must be nice to actually dance with abandonment without first thinking, I should just let go and not care that my clothes are muddy, my hair is wet, or what others see. Even when we do let lose, it’s a conscious decision to ignore societal norms, not a natural, childlike decision.

All I was thinking of was getting into the car and out of the rain. All Daisy thought of was the feeling of the raindrops on her skin. I hope she never loses this carefree part of herself. Of course at some point she’ll become more wary and cautious and care what people think, but I hope not too much. I hope she’ll always find joy in feeling the rain on her face, not caring that other people don’t like to get wet. My little Daisy, keep marching to your own beat. Keep singing and dancing in the rain.

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Grinch Ornaments for Giacomo’s 1st Birthday

It’s crazy to believe a whole year has gone by since my Mr. Man came into the world. I always say that the day he was born it felt like an explosion, that my heart grew 3 sizes that day like the Grinch. So for his first birthday, we had a Grinch themed party. Giacomo had such fun playing with his cousins, family, and friends.

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I would have just had pizza and subs, but my sisters and mom took over and insisted on cooking a feast of antipasto salad (Truffula Salad), chicken cutlets (Roast Beast), sausage and peppers, kielbasa, pierogies, baked beans, pasta, potatoes and peas (Who Hash), and a 6 foot sub.  For I took over and went crazy.I couldn’t have done any of this without their help. I definately have the best family!

Jack s party 3

For dessert nieces made chocolate dipped marshmallows and decorated sugar cookies, while I went nuts making cupcakes, chocolate pretzels, Rolo pretzels, Oreo balls, pumpkin cheesecake, Rice Krispie Treats,  a regular cake and a smash cake for Jack, and Who Pudding. The kids even enjoyed a Hot Cocoa bar.

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To thank everyone for celebrating, I made Christmas ornaments of the Grinch and his heart.

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For the Grinch ornaments, I swirled green paint inside the ornaments and left them upside down to dry. After two days I had to recoat. I let them dry about a week before adding the Grinch face.

Grinch

I layered yellow vinyl over black vinyl cuts for the ornament. Using the Cricut Explore, I cut the Grinch face by uploading  as a simple image. (I uploaded it twice, once for the face and once for the eyes). grinch clipart

I’ve made glitter ornaments with Glitter-It in the past, but I finally decided to try the mop & Glo method I’ve seen on craft sites and Pinterest. It does work, and it’s super quick! Just swirl the M&G in the ornament, drain out the excess, add in glitter, shake it up to coat, and tap out the extra glitter. Glitter-It works great, but so does M&G, and the giant bottle is way cheaper.

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I feel like the heart ornaments went with my whole year’s theme. All year I’ve been writing about the joys of the heart as well as heartache. The year started with my heart growing with Jack’s birth, and since then I’ve written about the joys of being a mom, the heartache of leaving baby, The Mighty Quinn’s Heart surgery, my dad’s heart attack, and now again, the joys of being a Mom.

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I was driving home from the party, I was thinking how it was the first time I did something really “Mom,” and it was the first time I felt like Mom. Feeling like mom is subtly different than feeling like a mother or a mommy, and I’m not sure how to explain it, but giving my son a fun birthday made me feel like a Mom, and I loved it.

My Goonies Pirate Paaaaaarty

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and my niece turned 10 two days before my birthday, so I decided that I was going to revolt against being an “adult” and have a joint themed party with her. My favorite movie also happens to be 30 this year. When I say it’s my favorite movie, I mean I’m a little obsessed:

My Car

I went pirate crazy. I got hats, eye patches, paper goods, and toys for the kids to play with.  We served The Kraken’s Special (spaghetti and meatballs) with Sloth’s Salad (antipasto salad).

 The Kraken's Special

For dessert, there were Canon Balls (Oreo balls), Mermaid Pearls (White Sixlets), Fratelli Pops, Swashbuckler Cookies, The Flying Dutchman’s Delight (cheesecake), and One Eye-d Willie’s Rich Stuff (Devils Food Cake).

Rich Stuff Canon Balls and Mermaid Pearls Swashbuckler Cookies

I’m not sure why I bought so many table cloths (2 red, one black, and several Jolly Rogers), but I quickly realized I did not need them all.

I decorated the tables with “treasure” and used the red for our dinner table, black for the dessert table, and I hung the Jolly Rogers from my mom’s deck and we used it as a backdrop. The pictures were great!

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I like to think this was a practice run for when Jack get’s older and asks for a pirate party. Because of course he’s going to want a pirate party. I already decided that this will be his toddler bed.

Little Tikes Pirate Ship Toddler Bed - Little Tikes - Babies"R"Us

After diner, there were sword battles, face painting, treasure hunts, and presents.

Everybody's a Pirate

IMG_8269 Face Painting

Sword Fighting

Sword Fighting

Birthday Ladies

Olivia loved her vanity set and I was treated to a Patrick Kane Team USA shirt. We all know I love the New York Rangers, but my favorite hockey player isn’t actually on the Rangers. Why? This is why. I happen to really wish that Patrick Kane would decide that he loves New York and would get traded to my team. I don’t see that happening (the Blackhawks would be fools) so instead I root for Kane only once every 4 years, during the Olympics.

The “grown up” portion of my birthday was celebrated with surprise tickets to see one of my favorite writers, David Sedaris. It was the first time since we had Jack that we went on a real date. It was a very strange feeling. I kept wondering what he was doing (as if a baby does much), but it was nice to spend time with Matt and share with him something I enjoy so much. David Sedaris can have a whole audience in stitches, on the brink of tears, and back to laughter in under a minute. It’s a talent that I’m so happy he didn’t just save for his own inner circle. I know that I’ve looked like a schizophrenic person reading his books in public. So if you haven’t yet, read yourself some Me Talk Pretty One Day or my favorite, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

LETS EXPLORE DIABETES WITH OWLS

Jack’s Christening

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Since going back to work, I really have been working for the weekend. I always thought I was busy all week, until I had someone else to care for everyday. I can’t imagine how people with more than one child do it, let alone people with twins! We christened Jack 2 weeks ago, and I figured that I did a lot of baking and crafting for all my nieces’ and nephew’s parties, I should at least make some favors for my own baby’s party. In order to do any of it I had my nieces come over and entertain him. (Something I never thought about needing to do before). The girls were great. Jack loves them. They played and danced with him while I filled chocolate molds and baked and decorated cookies.

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Our family’s tradition is to have the baby’s godmother bathe and dress the baby before church, so Nancy came over and immediately started yelling at me and Matt because we weren’t ready either. I’m no fool. If she was going to get the baby ready that meant I’d have more time for myself. 🙂

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At our church, they christen several babies at once. Jack was the loudest baby there. He DID NOT like being so hot in his outfit, or the fact that his bottle wasn’t warm enough the whole time. Surprisingly, he didn’t cry at all when he was being baptized. He loves baths, and I think he was expecting to be allowed to jump into the water. It was a lovely ceremony and my niece was picked to help the Deccan.  We were so happy to celebrate afterwards.

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For his party I wanted a lamb theme. It was so close to Easter, so there was a lot of lamb baby things around, and it’s a nice, neutral baptism theme. The girls were able to help me make the centerpiece for the favors (apothecary jar filled with yarn balls), and they made the centerpieces for everyone’s dining tables. These cute lambs doubled as a kid craft and a party piece. The girls were entertained and knew they helped with the party. A win-win!

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For favors, everyone helped themselves to a variety of treats. I Made lots of chocolate crosses and a tall jar of white and blue sprees and whoppers for people’s treat bags, and I made 3 different kinds of cookies. I decorated chocolate covered Oreos with a blue chocolate cross. The lamb cookies were basic cream cheese cookies iced white (royal icing) with some white edible pearls. I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and some black pepper (just a touch)to the cream cheese dough to make the cross cookies.  I decorated them with royal icing and a lamb chocolate mold.

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The non-edible favor was tiny finger rosaries. They were so sweet! Instead of a cross, they have an angel. I twice the amount needed so everyone could take more than one (which everyone did). I put a set on my car’s emergency brake for luck. I ordered them from this Etsy shop. I love them!

It was Also Angelina’s Birthday. She’s 14!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe how time flies!!IMG_7710

MmMmMm Stuffed Bread

So I’ve had this post written for a while and never posted. I guess I’ve been busy (with slight baby brain). My niece Jenna’s Birthday was several weeks ago when I originally wrote this. She’s twelve. TWELVE! Her last year as a tween, and she’s still as sweet as ever. She loves typical tween things (1 Direction and soccer), and I was both sad and excited to get to buy her birthday clothes in the juniors (instead of the kids) section. Now two of my nieces are middle schoolers, and I feel old.We celebrated Gi’s birthday at her house, complete with a soccer and 1D themed cake.

Happy Birthday Gi!

I brought some stuffed pepperoni and cheese bread for a side dish to the birthday dinner. It’s a pretty simple recipe, but before I give it I should warn you that an ingredient may be a bit of a surprise. Therefore I think I need to give some background on my stuffed bread expertise. I worked at a bakery all throughout high school and college. Every weekend, the bakery sold stuffed breads, and pepperoni and cheese always sold out quickly.
In spite of the fact that we always called it “pepperoni and cheese bread,” customers always asked for “pepperoni and mozzarella.” We never corrected them, but really the bread was NOT made with mozzarella. Think about melted mozzarella’s texture: it’s stringy, not gooey. What made our pepperoni and cheese bread so good was that the cheese was gooey. So here’s the big secret; we used White American Cheese.

Don’t get scared or grossed out! I promise white American and pepperoni is delicious. I’m sure yellow American is just as good, but I think people are freaked out by the fact that yellow cheese is so clearly not mozzarella.

So, stuffed bread is pretty simple. If you have a recipe for bread use it, but I make things even easier by using pre-made dough.

Steps to Make Stuffed Bread

Split the dough with a knife and spread it out. Put down a layer of cheese, a layer of pepperoni, and another layer of cheese. Is this a lot of cheese? Yes. Will cheese ooze out when you bake it? Some of it will, so it’s better to be safe with extra cheese ;). Roll up the bread and cut a few venting slits on the dough. Bake the bread until it’s golden brown, let it cool enough to touch, and slice it up. People kept sneaking a slice, so my bread didn’t even make it to the dinner table. Take a chance and try it!

Finished Product

Cape May and Fairy Gardens

I’m kind of sad that summer is unofficial lye over, but I can’t complain. I’ve spent the last few weekends of summer happily. A few weeks ago, Matt and I decided to go on a mini road trip down memory lane to our old Stockton stomping grounds. Normally our trips to our old college town would take us to the winery, but since only one of us can enjoy the wine, we ventured down to a Chinese take-out place we often went to through college. They have the best sweet and sour chicken ever. We continued south to Cape May where we explored the shops (where i found a lot less antiques than I expected, but some great craft ideas), walked the boardwalk, and enjoyed an indirect flashback to our alma mater again. Despite a few holes in one, I fell apart and panicked at the end of our game, and Matt beat me by 5 points.

a lovely time

Even though I lost, Matt still treated me to a beautiful had beaded bracelet in my favorite color. I can’t even tell you the shop he bought it from because there was no sign on the building.  We had dinner at an Irish pub where I, of course, ordered the butter lobster rolls, and stopped for smoothie desserts.

 Making the cake!

We also celebrated my niece Laila’s birthday. The night before the party, the kids all came over to watch the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie (which they loved) and help bake Laila’s tie-dyed  cake and cookies. Everyone was in charge of mixing and poring a color.

Laila's Frozen Cake

 

They turned out great!I decorated the cake for a Frozen theme party with blue frosting and white snowflakes.

Happy Birthday Laila! Laila & Olivia, or Ana & Elsa

To add to the birthday festivities, we made a fairy garden in a hollowed out tree stump.

Fairy Veggie Garden Fairy table

We used a fairy garden kid along with a few mini items I found at Michael’s.

Adding to the fairy garden All the kids helped

I glued floral pins to the bottoms of everything to stake them into the ground.

Welcome Fairies!

The only thing left to do is plant some pretty fall flowers. with a hideaway like this, fairies are bound to make this their new home!

Fairy Garden!

 

Happy Birthday Nancy!

Maria, Nancy, and Me <3
Today is my oldest sister’s birthday. Nancy is 8 years older than me, which is a relatively large gap. The other day I found this BuzzFeed that really nails our relationship:

 
 
For the most part, it’s all true. We never ever fought growing up, she was very motherly to me when I was a kid, and as we get older we get closer. I must have been such a nuisance to her growing up. She was always babysitting me, and I was not the most pleasant child. I’m sure I didn’t listen, I was mean, I was annoying, I was a picky eater (so taking me with her to eat must’ve been a hassle), and a brat. But she took me with her everywhere and dealt with me. And can’t ever remember Nancy being mean to me. Ever. I don’t think much has changed. I’m probably still a brat and still annoy her, and she still endures me.
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Yesterday we had dinner at her house for her birthday, and I took my nieces on a wild goose chase for an Alex and Ani bracelet for their mom. They had saved up money to get her one for her birthday, but of course the closest store with the bracelets was closed. We did find Wind & Fire bracelets, which look very much the same. Jenna picked our the slot machine bangle for her mom. How fitting 😉 Her girls also made her lots of gifts, including rainbow loom bracelets, beautiful pictures and these adorable clay figurines Angelina sculpted.
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Most people don’t know it, but I get some of my crafty side from Nancy. About 15 years ago, it was Nancy’s bright idea to go to ceramics class every Tuesday. We went to that class for a long time before life got too busy, but I started going back about 2 years ago. It was also Nancy who taught me how to use chocolate molds to make handmade candies, and from that came my love of baking and decorating. Every now and then she’ll ask me for help with a craft project, and I always try to remind her that she actually is the crafty one. She just pretends she isn’t.
 
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That will be harder now that she was the organizer of my niece’s school play. Nancy not only organized the play, she and the other mom’s also designed and created all of the sets and costumes. She did such a fantastic job with the play, and Jenna did a wonderful job with her role as “The Flower Selling Villager.” 
Jenna's Play
 
Happy Birthday Nancy! I hope you had a wonderful day! 
  

 

Birthdays and Weight Cake

Last weekend we celebrated Dad’s birthday, and after weeks of keeping quiet we celebrated my brother-in-law’s surprise 40th birthday.

Nancy was able to plan the surprise party without Ben having any idea. She themed the party “Fit and Forty,” and we designed invitations and favor labels to match.

For centerpieces, Nancy used foam circles and paper towel tubes, hot glues them, and painted them to look like dumbbells. Even the cake was in theme. It was actually very simple to make.

We used 2 paper towel rolls as the bar and baked a 6 inch, 12 inch, and two 8 inch round cakes as the weights. We cut the cakes in half and placed them but side down on opposite ends of the cake board. We iced the cake and the tube with fondant* and colored it with Wilton spray food coloring.** We sprayed the bar first, then once it was dried, we covered the bar with a towel and sprayed the cake with black food coloring.

*You can’t ice a cake with only fondant. In order for the fondant to “stick,” and for a smooth look, you need a layer of regular icing over your cake.

**Certain colors, like black, red, and metallic colors, are much easier as sprayed on than actually dying the icing. The sprays smell kind of strange at first, but once they dry, the smell is gone and they are pretty tasteless.

We had extra  fondant and silver coloring, so we made tiny toppers for cupcakes. We used stirrer straws as tiny bars, and small fondant balls as the weights.

The cake and cupcakes came out great, and the party was fantastic. Ben was genuinely surprised, and we had a great time. A weekend of good food, family, and friends. I was wonderful!

Aside

Happy Birthday, Maria!

I can always count on my sister Maria to be silly with me. We never get tired of obscure quotes, impersonations, and scenarios.

What seems random to most people (like why I called our 1st cat Loaf), makes sense to Maria (After all, she was named Olivia, which sounds like Liv, which sounds like Olive, and eeeeeew what’s that gross deli meat over there, Olive Loaf? We’ll just call her Loaf for short…)

 

People usually stare at us when we are laughing for seemingly no reason, but it’s not our fault they don’t know the likes of Pelinore

or Joanna Stayton.

My mom will yell at us for our random bouts. Usually it is at an inappropriate time, and my mom has tried to explain that it looks like we’re mocking or gossiping. But I swear, if we’ve ever made you feel this way, in all probability we were laughing at this:

 

or this (which was one of my birthday gifts to her)

 

Everyone needs someone who can make you laugh when you just want to cry. Luckily, that doesn’t happen often, but when it does I have my sisters to cheer me up again! Happy birthday Maria!

My mom, the Leo

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I don’t live and die by the zodiac signs, but I do find it very interesting when they are accurate. My Mom’s birthday was this past Sunday, and she is a Leo in every sense.

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There is no one as straightforward and frank as my mom. You never EVER have to wonder what she’s thinking. Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes I have to shush her. She’s also one of the most impatient people I know. When she asks for something, she means right that second, stop what you’re doing, and do it. I’ve read that this impatience in Leo’s also leads to unnecessary anxiety. Combine that anxiety with a Leo’s headstrong nature, and you can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like convincing her that she’s overreacting. 

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But my mom (and other Leo’s) faults are fair enough trade-offs. Leo’s are also energetic (this might be an understatement in her case. She’s always the life of the party), loyal (Once you’re my mom’s friend, you’re ALWAYS her friend.), and kind hearted (as gruff and straight forward as my mom can be, she has a huge heart). She rarely, if ever, puts herself first. For example, every year she takes all 6 of her grandkids down to Florida so they can see Disney. Every year. My mom, my dad, and 6 kids. This includes last year, when our whole family and my brothers-in-law’s family went down (my sisters married brothers, for those of you who didn’t know), and this was right after her knee replacement! The Dr told her to be careful and cancel, but the headstrong Leo she is told the Dr she was fine.

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She doesn’t think it’d be fair to stop going because the younger ones wouldn’t visit as often as the older ones, and she would never leave the older ones behind either. She could take her time off to go to an island or on a cruise, but she spends her vacation time with the grand kids at Disney. The 2 boys in the pic below are not her grandkids, but by the end of the trip, she was known as Grandma Sandy to them!

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Even on her actual birthday she will plan around the kids. She’ll ask for us to make a dinner she knows everyone else likes. Usually she asks me to make a Mickey Mouse cake or some other kid-themed desert to make the kids happy. This year, my sister Maria actually took a page from my book and got crafty with the kids and made these desserts. Our cousin Sue suggested I make Despicable Me cupcakes. The minions are made of Twinkies. (Wooohooo they’re back!) Aren’t they adorable? 

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Happy Birthday Mom! I love you forever, I like you for always 😉

Texas Craft House

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