Tagged: baking

Feb 20

Choo choo, Graham is two.


Our son, Graham, turned two last week. Because he is in love with trains right now, we threw him a train-themed party.
train birthday cake and table

I had this dream of buying a fabulous cake so I wouldn’t stress myself out about making/decorating a cake. But when I started price-checking cakes like I wanted, I quickly retreated. So I whipped out my trusty old cake mix boxes and got to baking. The cake didn’t turn out anything like what I wanted, but I was still happy with it. I used cookie crumbs and chocolate frosting to make a track around the perimeter for his toy trains to sit on.


I also threw together a larger train car for snacks. I used shoe boxes, covered them in brown paper grocery bags and made the wheels out of rolled up strips of black felt. One of the cars had wheels made out of some vintage coasters.

We also had some sugar cookies made by a friend of my mom – and I was so happy with them! Adorable! My favorite was the RR crossing sign and the stop light. We used these as party favors for the kids as well.
train party cookies
For low cost decorations, I made him a birthday sign out of cardboard and reused our 4th of July pennant banners. I made the sign to match the party invitation that we mailed out. He was really funny with his invitation – he carried them around the house and called them his “tards”.
train invitation
Graham absolutely loved his day. He loved all the attention and all the snacking. He was super excited for presents and told each giver “than-too” after he unwrapped. We even had a difficult time pulling him away from his new toys to blow out his candles. But once he got to it, he was thrilled to hear his birthday song and huff, puff and blow his candles out. He was so darn cute doing it that we let him do it a couple more times.

Happy second birthday, Grahamser. It’s been two sweet years – here’s to many more!

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Nov 01

Coming down from a sugar high.


Well, we survived the week of Halloween! The kids loved it and I am exhausted! They were so cute trick-or-treating last night that I seriously wasn’t ready to stop. Each holiday that comes and goes, I become more aware of how much holidays are all about the kids. Guess my perspective has changed some.

Over the past month, I have found myself wishing away these last weeks of my pregnancy. But then I think twice and realize that I am wishing away a holiday season with Lilah and Graham. Plus, I realize that carrying an unborn baby in my tummy, despite all my complaints, is way less work than caring for a newborn. All the diapers and feedings and laundry and willing the child to sleep! I think I’ll take the indigestion and back pain for a few more weeks.

I have been VERY busy lately with my freelance work, so I have been trying extra hard to keep the kids busy. Now, I wouldn’t say that it’s worked, but I think they like the new activities. Here are a few that I took pictures of.

When I was a kid, I was VERY into rubber stamps. I still have a huge tub of stamps and ink pads that I never use. I let the kids pick a few out and stamp their little hearts out.

About 10 minutes in, they decided that it would be more fun to stack them up and build towers. Knocking them over was just as much fun as getting ink all over our hands and arms.

Last week, during the Halloween madness, I thought I would let the kids attempt to make some treats. My first thought was sugar cookies, which Lilah and I did last year, but remembered how much work that was for me. So I decided I’d try some other treats that looked simple enough. It went pretty well, but again, their attention span wasn’t nearly as long as I hoped. They had the most fun placing eyes on whatever treats we made.




We made ghosts (out of Nutter Butters), spiders (out of chocolate cake mix cookies, pretzels and M&Ms), witches hats (out of Keebler cookies and Hersey Kisses) and “spooky” eyeballs (Bakerella’s cake balls).

And because Lilah has been interested in sorting things lately, I got out her boxes of crayons and let her sort them by color. We used a muffin tin and she sorted through them all two times. Graham “sorted” too, but not with much method. This drove Lilah up the wall but kept them both occupied as she “taught” him how to separate them.


So, keeping them busy often keeps me busy. But at least I feel better about the hours that I don’t give them any attention because I am stuck at my computer.

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Aug 16

Old.

This summer, my husband, my brother and his wife are all celebrating their thirtieth birthdays. (Thirty?? What? My husband is turning thirty?!?!? When did we get this old?) Of course, I am happy to celebrate with them as I have two more years before I hit that milestone.

Together, we all threw a party to help the three of them through this. Of course, good times were had by all. But I have to tell you the story of the cakes.

The damn cakes.

First of all, let me tell you that I was determined to buy the cakes, not to make them. For two reasons. One: I know very little about decorating cakes and have been “winging it” through each of my kids birthday so far. Two: I didn’t need that added stress in my life. However, when it turned out that my kids were going to their grandparents for a few days and I saw what the bakery wanted for three separate birthday cakes, I changed my mind. I thought, I’ve got plenty of time. I’ll just use a box mix and do something simple. No problem.

Right.

I made these cakes the night before. Mistake number one, perhaps? And, I used frosting from a can. Mistake number two? We’ll just say that Martha would not be proud of my cake decorating skills. Oh well. At least they tasted good. Didn’t stop me from eating two pieces today. (Hey, I’m eating for two, remember??)

But I do have to tell you that I did learn one thing in the process. I always get really frustrated when baking the layers of a cake because they always bake with a raised dome in the middle. Which I then have to chop off and discard (read: eat while waiting for cake to cool). But I feel like this wastes cake and my layers aren’t as tall as I want them after I level off the lump.

So, I googled it. And it turns out that I wasn’t the only one who was devastated by the dome. All it takes is some old wet towels wrapped around your cake pan as it bakes. Who knew?? I guess the moisture keeps the outside cool so it doesn’t cook as fast as it normally would. Follow these directions and you’ll get a perfectly level cake. Worked for me six times.

At least something worked.

Anyways, clearly the party was still a blast without beautiful cakes. Life is not about perfect cakes. Life is about good friends and good memories. Here’s to thirty more years of that with three of my favorite people in the world. Happy Birthday to Trever, Jenny and Brady! Love you guys!

Oh, and to explain the “23″ atop Jenny’s cake:
What woman wants to openly admit their true age, right? For this reason, I taught my daughter to say that her mommy and Aunt Jenny are “twenty-twee” whenever prompted. In fact, according to her, I turned 23 on my last two birthdays!! Love you, Lilah!

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Jul 21

Pink or blue?


My brother and his wife are having a baby today! As I write, Jenny is being induced. They have kept the gender and the name a surprise, so I am super anxious for this baby to get here! Wishing I had something I could do to speed the process up, I decided to make cookies for him/her. Okay, so their mostly for the baby’s visitors.

My prediction is that I will be taking the blue cookies to the hospital. But knowing my family, I am guessing they will all get eaten either way :)

Can’t wait to meet you, little one!

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Jun 04

Three.


A few weeks ago, my baby turned three. Not so much of a baby anymore. Although you wouldn’t know it by the incessant amount of hardcore whining, fit-throwing, diaper-wearing, milk-drinking that still goes on around here. But she does do her fair amount of “big girl” things as well. Like wearing big girl pants all day. Or sleeping in her big girl bed.

For her birthday, she wanted a little mermaid party. Easy enough. I put on my party-planning shoes and whipped up some super simple invites. They were supposed to look like a mermaid tail, but I’m not so sure that’s obvious.

For the party, we planned a swim at the YMCA, dinner, cake and digging for seashells in the new sandbox she got for her birthday.

And the kids got beta fish as party favors. She named hers Flounder and surprisingly, she is still alive. Even though Lilah wants to feed it about a dozen times a day.

The cake was fairly simple to make. Turned out kinda sloppy, but Lilah never noticed. I bought the topper and the little sugar flowers at Cake Stuff and had no major problems, aside from the incident where Lilah stuck her little fingers into it the first time she saw it.

Her birthday party landed on Mother’s Day, so we were also celebrating that. My SIL, Jenny, and I decided it would be a great idea to have a portrait taken of the four grandchildren and give it to my mom. We took the kids to Portrait Innovations and it was NIGHTMARE. That’s all I will say about that. Any more details, and I’d need to start another post. However, the photo turned out great and Mom loved it – so mostly worth it.

Happy Birthday, Lilah! Here’s to many, many more years of giggles! Love you!

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Mar 25

Birthdays and chocolate and cake, oh my.

Over a month ago (seriously, it’s been that long?!?!), my little guy turned one. As if that wasn’t a big enough milestone, we decided to baptize him then as well. Oh, and it was also Valentine’s Day.
Is that enough reasons to party? I think so.

Since it was Valentine’s, the theme for the party was pretty obvious. I called it the “Kind of our Hearts” party. Feeling inspired by some of the amazing desert tables going around the internet, I decided to go “all out”. (I may have also been high the day that decision was made ;)

Six glue sticks, five cake mixes, three jars of frosting and one crazy mama later:

Seriously, this was a lot of work. How do all these people pull it off? Maybe all those other mom’s out there aren’t doing it alone? I was exhausted after baking and decorating all day! Don’t get me wrong, it was fun and I loved planning and carrying out all the details, but it was a TON of work.

Like, if I still worked full time, this would have never happened.

Hell, if I still worked full time, I probably would have picked up cupcakes at Dillons and called Pizza Hut. (We also served lunch – pulled pork sandwiches, chicken salad sandwiches, fruits and veggies).

But anyways, enough about the work.

It all started with the invitations. These were pretty simple to make, and I had almost everything on hand already. I used an old deck of cards for them.




And more details from the party:

One of the reasons that this was time consuming was these little guys. I have a mini-bundt pan that cooks six of these at a time. I think I made like eight batches or something crazy like that – that is a lot of in-and-out of the oven, watching the timer, greasing the pan, etc, etc. BUT, aren’t they cute?!?!?

The cake stand was actually very simple (and cheap!!) and inspired by this easy tutorial.

The crown on top was originally going to be made from fondant. But, having never worked with it, I got intimidated at the last minute. This one is made from foam paper and served the purpose just as well.

For the wall art, I just used some leftover wrapping paper and taped it over the art. Be warned, this took a lot of tape and trial and error. Lots of error. (That damned thing would NOT stay up!)

Chocolate dipped pretzels. The strawberries were supposed to be dipped as well, but I ran out of energy. And chocolate.

And the birthday boy. Who loved his party, but mostly loved his cake. Which is a reminder of why, in the future, I need to just keep it simple.

Happy Birthday, Grahamsey.

All hail King G. (Which is what Brady and Lilah have nicknamed him.)

And I conclude this with a vow. A vow to never go overboard again.
At least until May. (Lilah’s birthday ;)

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Mar 14

Me want cookies.

Last week, my neice Eva turned two and yesterday we celebrated. With an adorable Cookie Monster party theme. Now, if there ever was a little girl who loved cookies more than anybody in the world, Eva is her. She loves her cookies. So she was in heaven.

Cookie monster birthday party theme
There were Cookie Monster cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal peanut butter cookies. A little cookie-obsessed girl’s dream. (And mine too! I couldn’t resist a little of each!)
Cookie monster birthday party theme - cupcakes
Jenny and her sister decorated these and it sounded like they weren’t quite as easy as one might think. The cupcakes were too soft to cut into and shape. Maybe if you let them dry out for a day or two that would help?
Cookie monster birthday party theme

Those are real chocolate chips on there. I guess they had a problem with Eva sneaking the chocolates off throughout the day. (See the bottom left corner)

Blue plastic Solo cups + googly eyes = Cookie Monster. So simple and cute.
Cookie monster birthday party theme
She was pretty proud of her birthday spread.

Princess Eva and brother Jak. All the kids ate Cookie Monster’s eyes first.

Happy Birthday to Eva!

Eva received a Snow White dress as a gift and immediately put it on for the rest of the night. Even princesses have to go to bed at their own party.

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Feb 09

A new tradition.

I have a love affair with traditions. Anything that comes once a year, once a month, once a day. Once a whatever. There is just something about them that feels so good. Comfortable and warm.

Becuase our children our small and our little family fairly young, we are still in the process of making our traditions. And the best place to start is with holidays. I also have a love affair with Valentines Day. I love all the romance and sweets. This year, I’m holding my breath for some chocolate covered strawberries. Yum.

Last year, when Graham was just born a few days before Valentines, we were all home loving and holding and hugging him all day long. We celebrated Valentines with heart-shaped pancakes. This year, I got a little anxious, and broke the molds out early. Added a little red food coloring (inspired by this) to the batter and Lilah was in love (and me too)!

Get your own molds here.

And Happy Valentines! Lots of love!

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Feb 08

Valentines DIY

So, with Valentine’s approaching and my son’s birthday this week, I am getting in the crafty mood. Been seeing lots of fun DIY projectsonline recently that I am putting on my “to-do” list. Wanted to share to see if any inspire you the way they have inspired me!

I actually attemped the cake stand this weekend and it was VERY simple. And inexpensive. Only needed to purchase the cardboard circles, and those were like $2 at the cake store. Also really want to get around to the little rose barrettes. I need more hours in the day!

Some of these have tutorials and some are just to give ideas. Enjoy!

1. Bakerella 2. One Charming Party 3. Kady Hope 4. Hanna Hoosier 4. Purl Bee via Twig and Thistle 5. Prudent Baby 6. Sew Mama Sew 7. Ali Edwards

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Jan 25

Old school.

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I have been out of school for almost six years now. And I think I am finally starting to miss it. (Wait, did I just say that out loud???)

No, I don’t miss the homework, the studying, the late nights cramming, or the long, cold winter walks to campus.

But, I do miss the learning. Taking home a new idea each day. Am I alone in this?

Lately, it’s become more apparent as I keep adding to my list of classes that I want to take. First, it started with the photography classes. (Which is something that I had always wanted to study while in school, but was too intimidated by.) Then a friend called and asked if I wanted to take wine tasting classes. Then another friend called about cake decorating classes. And I realized I had a problem.

Too many classes. Too little Kylie.

Here’s a list of local classes that are available and I am hoping to get to take part in at some point:

il_fullxfull.118046526 1. Knitting/crocheting – These are available at a local yarn store, Twist. But you can probably ask your grandma or you aunt for a basic lesson. My sister-in-law taught me to knit several years ago (thanks, Casi!), but I’ve never made it past the simple scarf. I found it to be incredibly rewarding and a perfect pastime for the car. Also, helps justify sitting down to watch The Bachelor. I really want to learn to take it further, follow patterns for hats and more. Plus, I really want to learn to crochet.

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2. Cooking
– Wichita has a few places to do this. But ever since my good friend, Adriene, started teaching cooking classes out of her home, I have been dying to take some. I always feel like I continually cook the same meals over and over and need introduced to some new techniques/recipes. I am totally eyeing that Superbowl party-themed class.

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3. Cake/cookie decorating
– Have you ever been to the Cake Stuff store?!?! You should definitely go. Very, very cool. With both my kids birthdays around the corner, I have really been wishing I had some of these skills.

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4. Scrapbooking
– Oven 10 years ago, I worked at Scrapbook Garden. Since then, that industry has evolved and changed in many ways. It has become a very artful hobby, one that I wish I hadn’t abandoned. I have been eyeing some of the mini-book classes (probably because that is something I could actually finish). And as a bonus, they offer FREE scrapbooking 101 and rubber stamping classes. A couple other resources for classes are Bradley Paper and Mrs. O’Leary’s in Old Town. All of these are very cool stores just to visit and get inspired, even if you can’t do the classes.

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5. Wine tasting
– Who doesn’t need this as a skill? The WSU continuing education department offers this class in a 4-week session for $100. I have had this class on my radar for several years, but have been pregnant much of that! I’m thinking this is a must! Also, the wine store by my house, Auburn Spirits, hosts wine tasting events a couple times a month.

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6. Quilting
– Now, this is definitely a more involved hobby, but I also find quilting to be incredibly rewarding. Nothing better than wrapping your baby in a quilt you made. Again, there are many places to learn the art of quilting, but I’m eying classes at my favorite store, The Picket Fence or an class at the upcoming quilt show.

So, as you can see – lots to learn. I think it’s a good thing!

Photo sources: 1.bellababyboutique, 2. grlpwr777, 3. jdesmeules, 4. Ali Edwards. 5.dimmalimmhome, 6. stitchindye

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