Monday, April 16, 2012

My Top 5 Reasons I Love Being a MOM!

Recently my husband asked me what I would like to do this year on Mother’s Day.  This question got me to thinking about what being a Mom really meant to me.   I started mentally listing reasons and finally decided that it would be nice to jot them down or why not blog about it.  First a little history on me.  I didn’t always want to be a mom!  <gasp>   Nope, it’s true!  In my early twenties my husband and I stayed out late and spent our weekends at wineries, bars, being lazy, hanging out with friends or doing whatever WE wanted.  If someone ever asked me if I wanted children I quickly replied “Heck No!”  We were having a lot of fun just being a couple and enjoying time together.  It wasn’t until I was in the upper part of my twenties and  married for almost 7 years that we decided in fact we wanted to be parents and thankfully about a year later we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world.  Now I am pretty much obsessed with my daughter and it's hard for me to imagine never having a child although I still respect the choice of couples that choose not too and I am sad for those who want to and are unable too.  Sometimes my husband and I reflect on all the time we shared together before we had our daughter and I am so grateful for it.  I often tell people that we were able to grow up together and learned a lot about each other in those 7 years pre-baby and can honestly say that I wouldn't change a thing.

   Here are my top 5 reasons of why I love being a MOM!!

     1.      My daughter is a comedian! She literally makes me laugh out loud every single day.  I never knew children could be so funny until I had my own.  She says something that tickles me daily by either butchering the English language or with her unfiltered honesty.

     2.      She makes me melt.  I imagine all mothers  feel this way about their child but she can say the sweetest things that make me want to just squeeze her to pieces.  Lately she has been in the habit of telling me before bed that she wants "sugas" (kisses) and then this is followed with her telling me to have sweet dreams.   **Melting**  Don’t get me wrong there are times where she isn't so sweet, but thankfully they are not too often.

      3.      Being a mom has taught me a lot.  Most of all it has taught me patience.  I had ZERO patience before Addie was born and from the moment she was placed in my arms I learned to S-L-O-W down and be more tolerant.  For those that don’t know me I am a bit of a control freak! I like things the way I like them and am a firm believer in everything has a spot.  I am still a working progress in this area, but I have definitely improved thanks to her.

4.  I love watching her learn! Every time she learns something new I couldn’!  Recently we accomplished the difficult task of potty training, more on that later, and when she finally did it on her own I literally felt tears well up in my eyes.  It’s pretty amazing watching  your child  learn something for the first time and seeing it “click.” (Or as Oprah would say that "Aha"moment.)

       5.    Finally, it's my dream job!  I  love baking, cooking, crafting, organizing, and lazy days at a park.  Staying home with her has allowed me to do this.  I thought my dream job was to be a Registered Nurse, but after having my daughter I realized that being a mom is what I really want to do.    Don’t get me wrong, I am very thankful for my chosen profession and being a nurse has allowed me to stay home 90% of the time with her.  I’ve been a RN in a hospital setting for almost 10 years, (wow time flies) and it is a great career to choose  if you want flexible hours and to be able to have a lot of quality time with your children.   I love being responsible for what she is learning and who she is playing with during the week.    When she and I are out running errands during the day I often have older people say to me to enjoy it because kids grow up too fast.  My daughter will be 3 in July and I have no idea where this time went, but continue to soak up each day with her. I know all to soon she will be going to school and sleep overs and probably not need me as much.   I usually don’t get to go many places without her in tow and would probably have a breakdown if I had to be away from her for longer then a day.  (I do however have a 10 year wedding anniversary coming up this year and that’s about the only thing important enough to pull me away for several days....hint, hint to the husband.)  Don’t get me wrong there are days when I feel like I may go insane and I am really glad to have my husband come home from work,  but there isn’t anything else I would rather do or job I would rather have.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mommy & Me Cupcakes

I am often asked by my friends and co-workers how the heck I have time to do all this decorating and what not with a toddler running around. To this I usually laugh and respond that I burn the candle at both ends and rely heavily on a schedule.  I manage most of my decorating for customers early in the morning, nap times and at night time.  I do like to spend several evenings with my husband curled up on the sofa watching T.V. and I try my best to take a couple nights a week to do so. Occasionally I do have things that I need  get done while my daughter is up running around and you can usually find her right beside me and wanting to be all up in it.  I recently purchased this adorable cupcake set from Melissa & Doug and I  let her go to town decorating while I am doing whatever tasks I need to get done.

This set comes with 4 cupcakes, washable markers, ("icing") and birthday candles.  I also give her some of my extra fondant to play with.  She loves drawing, re-drawing and adding fondant accents to the cupcakes.   I highly recommend this product for any active toddler because this keeps them busy for quite sometime!

Yes, that's green "icing" all over her face.

The end result.
Sometimes it just isn't enough to decorate fake cupcakes and you need the real thing!  So recently I held a Mommy & Me cupcake class at a craft store.  I am a Wilton cake instructor and love that you can teach specialty classes and gear them toward a specific audience and theme.   Since my daily life is focused around a 2.5 year old I figured why not get some of her little friends together and let them go crazy playing with cupcakes, candy and icing! For this class I tried to pick simple and easy cupcake designs for the toddlers. I settled on ladybugs, turtles, rainbows, Easter bunnies, and shamrocks.  The mommies were asked to bring 8 to12 un-iced cupcakes along with a few other supplies.  I purchased several different candies, gave a few quick directions and let them get to work.  I was actually amazed at how well they paid attention and took direction. 
They practiced their icing technique.
They worked on their piping skills.

They even rolled out fondant!

TA-DA!! This was the end result after 2 hours of non-stop cupcake decorating!!

And this is me and my munchkin and only a small taste of the mess she made. This picture was also taken BEFORE all the sugar kicked in!  Needless to say she missed a nap that day and was up way past her bedtime, but it was so worth it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quick & Simple St. Patrick's Day Crafts!

Whew!! What a busy couple weeks it has been since my last post!! I admit it, I am not the blogger I thought I would be! I have TONS of ideas to blog about and then by the time I am able to sit down for a minute and blog I crash! I will *try* to be better going forward, but I can't make any promises. This past weekend was St. Patty's day, (or is it Paddy's day?!?) At any rate I like to decorate my home up a bit for each holiday and several weeks ago a crafty co-worker of mine turned me onto these two ideas along with a little help from Pinterest. (Have I mentioned that I LOVE Pinterest!?)
I printed off this adorable subway art, framed it and hung it!! EASY!

I then purchased these CHEAP frames from the local dollar tree and pulled out my scrap booking kit and made these LUCK frames.  CUUUUUUTE!

I also wanted to make some sort of green sweet treat like the cake below, but I ran out of time. (Story of my life!)

This maker of this adorable leprechaun cake belongs to Loren at The Baking Sheet

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A month of dinner done in a day!

Yep, that's right! I said a month of dinner D-O-N-E all in one day! If your wondering how to do this then you came to the right place. With the help of some of my new 'friends' I discovered how to cook some delicious meals for the entire month in just under 7 hours. (I apologize in advance for such a lengthy post.)  First of all a little bit of background. I love to cook meals for my family but there are a couple of nights during the week that I am not able to cook dinner because I am at my second or third job.  My first job is being a stay at home mom during the day and I am also a nurse at a local hospital and teach cake decorating a couple nights a week . In addition to this I may have one or two cakes to make during the week for a customer and if I left dinner up to my husband he would only serve pizza or ravioli. So one day I happened to ask on Facebook if anyone knew of any great crock-pot/freezer meals that were healthy. A friend of mine suggested checking out one of her boards on Pinterest and well the rest is history. This sparked a whole chain of events. First I fell in love with Pinterest and actually started to understand it. I then discovered the world of once a month cooking and found a whole bunch of great slow cooker recipes and even blogs about this. (Click here for a good one.) I have always had a love/hate relationship with my crock-pot. Love that all you have to do is throw everything in it and call it a day. Love that your entire house smells like what ever yummy recipe you are making. Hate that it feels like it weighs 20 pounds and having to lug it out from underneath the cabinet. Hate that no matter how much cooking spray I use, it is still the biggest pain in the butt to clean up afterwards. Now after discovering a few tips and tricks I have nothing but love for it.

 In order to be successful with once a month cooking you have to be able to devote one entire day to this. (Believe me it is worth it after all is said and done.) I usually pick a weekend day that I know my husband will be able to tag team in the kitchen with me or with our daughter. The night before I write down what meals I want to make and get my grocery list started. (I seriously think this part could be it's on post because it is a little time consuming as well.) For each recipe that you are making you will need to double the ingredients. So basically if the recipe calls for two cups of chopped onions you will need four. (Sorry to "dumb-it down", but I like when people really explain stuff!) The next morning I get up SUPER early before the rest of the gang gets up and head to the store. (Side note: I LOOOOVE grocery shopping and when I have BIG trips like this I choose to leave the husband and baby at home for time reasons.) When I get home I start prepping everything. With the help of my husband and a food processor we slice and dice all the vegetables needed for each recipe.

This little guy makes life a lot easier too!!

We then get started on the meat.  If you are making a crock-pot meal then you do not need to cook it, but if its for a casserole then you will need to brown everything.  Then after that we divide each doubled recipe up into a labeled freezer bags along with the spices, vegetables and meat.  Like I said before this is SUPER time consuming but it will change your life!! It takes us about 6 to 7 hours from start to finish and I imagine that if you did not have a toddler running around it will take even less time.  Here is what her day looked like while we slaved away in the kitchen.

She did a little coloring.

She played with her doll house.

She had a "birthday party."
She also "helped" us in the kitchen and then she napped, oh the life!!!

Here are is a list of everything we made.  Click on the link for the recipe. 

First of all we eat a lot of chicken because I have never cared for red meat, pork or turkey and chicken is so versatile.  Secondly if the recipe calls for ground beef you can always substitute ground chicken, turkey or soy.  Last if the recipe calls for a can or a jar of something I do not put this in the freezer bag. I wait and add this along with the freezer bag of food on the morning of.    Remember that we doubled each of these recipes and were even able to triple some of them!! We ended up having a total of SIXTEEN meals and most of the time each recipe will yield leftovers for the next day.

TA-DA!!!! (Sadly I couldn't fit it all in the picture.)

Don't forget to add these Slow Cooker Liners to your grocery list.  You will thank me later when you are no longer scrubbing your pot FOR-EVER!

Finally set your freezer bag out thirty minutes prior to putting it all in the crock-pot.

 If your wondering about the cost my grocery bill,  it ran a little over $320 dollars. This averages out to be about $80.00 a week and is a DEAL to me considering the cost of groceries now!  (Keep in mind this does not include fresh fruit and I *try* to buy organic veggies when possible and I use coupons!) 
Whew, I think that is everything!!
 Please leave any questions or comments that you may have.  I would love to hear about your experience with once a month cooking or any recipes you feel like sharing.
As always thanks so much for stopping by!!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yay for Leap Day!

So it's no secret to any of my family or friends that I love a holiday, special occasion, event or any reason to be crafty and pull out my hot glue gun and glitter pens.  I was pretty excited when I was asked to make some Leap Day cupcakes for a friend and decided to use a play on words and make some fondant frogs on top of buttercream cupcakes. I found the inspiration for these on Cake Central from another cake decorator.

After making these cupcakes it immediately got me thinking about what else I could do for this day that only comes once every four years.  I didn't have to look far because my inbox was soon flooded with ideas.  I have subscribed to several great crafting blogs and apparently Leap Year was on every one's mind this week. The first idea I ran across came from Busy Bee Kids Crafts and was super simple and perfect for my 2 year old. I had all the supplies on hand and decided to give it a whirl. Here is what you need:

Green (Washable) Paint and brush
Red pipe cleaner
Green construction paper
White paper plate
2 white pom-poms for eyes

We first outlined her sweet little hands.

Then she painted the white paper plate green. (P.S. I always cover my kitchen table in newspaper when paint or Play-Doh is involved. Ekk!)

Then we attached the green hands, pipe cleaner mouth and pom-pom eyes and viola, a fun leap day frog!

 Easy peasy right?!

The next idea came from my recent obsession with Pintrest! I like everyone else have hopped on the Pintrest bandwagon and have found so many fun ideas!!! If your not already following me on Pintrest you can find the link in the upper left hand corner of my blog.  Anyhow back to the project! If you have a toddler then you know that they are super picky eaters and want pasta the majority of the time! (At least my toddler does.) I however have found that she will eat almost any vegetable if it is covered in ranch dressing.  So with that little helpful bit of info I serve almost every vegetable with ranch dressing!! (I honestly would not mind if it was covered in ketchup as long as she is eating a vegetable I am happy!)  A couple weeks ago I ran across a picky kids lunch blog and I was excited to find another use for my cookie cutters besides cookies!! So using these cookie cutters this is what I came up with.  Of course the frog and crown would have looked a lot cuter if it was a spinach tortilla but I wasn't about to truck it up to the store for green tortillas.  I have also found that putting food inside of cupcake liner is a huge crowd pleaser with my toddler and she automatically thinks its fun!

Thanks for stopping by!
Happy Crafting,

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Snow Suits and Bathing Suits

Another busy week in the world of babies and baking has come and gone and it was a nice break to have some down time in between cake orders.  We started the week in snowsuits and ended it in bathing suits. (OK a little exaggerated with the bathing suits but I did end up sporting flip flops and short sleeves for two days so that's close enough.) Monday brought the first snow of the year and I have never seen a 2 year old so pumped about SNOW!!! This was her first REAL snow that she was able to actually play in and I think I may have been more excited then her.  I have to say that this was one of the highlights of my week.  At first glance she seemed to be a little put off by the the cold white stuff, but that lasted only a second and before long both she and I were covered in it! The snow was perfect too. Perfect for building snowmen, playing in, sledding in and gone by the afternoon. PERFECT!

What's a snow day without homemade hot chocolate?!? Of course I did not have condensed milk on hand and I don't usually keep it in stock so I came up with my own quick version of this old fashioned favorite and it was really, really good!!  

Here is my quickie recipe:

1/3 cup of cocoa
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup water
*Whisk together on medium/high heat until almost at a boil then add 3 cups of milk and 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.  Heat to desired temperature and top with marshmallows!


Towards the end of the week the weather God's smiled down and we ended up having temperatures topping 80 degrees, CRAZY for February!  So I decided that since the weather was AMAZING this would be a perfect opportunity to visit our local zoo. I recently made a baby shower safari cake and since then my daughter has been OBSESSED with zebra's, giraffe's and all things zoo related.

   This was our second visit to this zoo and I had much higher hopes this time around.  The first time we went I was unimpressed to put it mild. There had to be 10 different schools on field trips that day and  it was insanely crowded.  It was 120 degrees (or at least felt like it), the cages were gross and well it smelled like a zoo.  Everyone I told my horrible zoo experience to assured me that I needed to go back and that it must have been an "off" day so I gave it another chance and I am so glad I did. 

This time around there were NO field trips because it was winter time!! (HA!) The only people there were other mommies and their children.  The cages were clean and the weather was great.  It still smelled like a zoo but I guess that's not going to change. :)

Now I'm looking forward to another busy and entertaining week ahead with lots of fun St. Patty Day crafts and sweets to come. Stay tuned!  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let's Get Started

I have to admit that I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to blogging but have found some pretty helpful people along the way to assist me.  For several months now I have enjoyed reading many posts from some awesome bloggers and I have learned so much from so many generous people out there willing to share their "how to's."  I love the idea that a blog can be a business and a personal journal and also serve as a place to pay homage to those that I admire.  (See my sidebar on your right for some fabulous blogs. ---->)  I know over the course of the next few months I will continue to learn more and will be tweaking this blog as I go.

 My website  has been up and  running  for a couple of months now and is purely devoted to the specialty cakes, cupcakes and cookies I have made.  With this blog I wanted to focus on a lot of other fun interest that I have as well as cakes. I recently discovered a bunch of great mommy blogs that have been entertaining, uplifting and inspiring.   I am hoping to be able to share what I think are great ideas, time saving tips, some mom stuff, some personal stuff and a few fun facts along the way.  A few facts about me are that I am a perfectionist, I cannot spell, I suck at grammer and punctuation, I am a over thinker, I love to write and I met my husband when I was seventeen, married at twenty-one and I am now thirty twenty-nine. (Gulp!!)  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will continue to be a part of this new journey with me.