Just ‘Cuz Cupcakes

Maybe its because it just seemed like fun…or maybe its because my body’s going through withdrawals after all the Christmas holiday treats!  But whatever the reason, last week I decided to break out the aprons and bake some cupcakes!

Now I’m not a baker and most of the baked items that leave my oven began in a box, but I do enjoy pretty things! =)  And last year, I discovered the joys of cupcake decorating.  For me, it’s relaxing… therapeutic even! AND you end up with a beautiful array of unique and EDIBLE creations!

When I first tackled cupcake decorating, I just bought one of those small kits by Wilton that has some disposable icing bags and 3 or 4 tips in them.  Most grocery stores or craft stores carry them.  If you find you enjoy doing this, you can add more tips to your collection over time!

Now, I mentioned that I usually bake from a box…true!  BUT I do make the buttercream frosting.  I like the flavor AND the consistency is great for piping.  So if you’re interested, I included some recipes at the end of this post.

So once you have your icing, tips, bags, and food colorings, you’re pretty much set to do some basic (but beautiful =)) cupcake decorating!  If you want to get real fancy you can add little extras like sprinkles or sugar pearls (super pretty!).

I’m not going to give any step by step instructions on decorating, but I will give you an idea of what I did for this batch of cupcakes…

wilton icing tips#1  The oh-so-popular swirl! I start from the outside and work into the middle.  If you want a fuller swirl, you can use the Wilton #32 star tip.

#2 I did all the pink rows first, starting with the middle row.  Then I went back to fill in the red.

#3 I started with the outside ring of pink stars and then worked inward.

#4 Yada, yada…started with the outside.  Did both white rings, then went back to fill in the red.

Basically, just experiment and have fun with it!  And remember…they don’t have to be perfect to be pretty!  Happy decorating! =)

Elizabeth

P.S.  Thank you to my hubby’s co-workers for taking some of the cupcakes off our hands!  You’re wonderful!

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A FEW RANDOM TIPS:

1.  When cutting the opening in the bag for your icing tip, cut SMALL at first.  It’s very easy to cut too big a hole and then your bag’s ruined! (Trust me…personal experience on this one…more times than I’d like to admit.)

2.  If you want a very concentrated color for your icing (i.e. a true red), you’ll want to use a special icing GEL rather than your basic food coloring.

3.  Regarding the kiddos…my girls love making and coloring the frosting.  I help them pipe because it can be hard for them to squeeze, or I put some in a bowl so they can use a spreader to decorate some of the cupcakes.  Either way is messy, but still super fun! =)

Buttercream Frosting Recipes

FoodNetwork.com: Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (doesn’t use shortening…haven’t used this one yet, but the reviews look great!)

AllRecipes.com: Rick’s Special Buttercream (This is the recipe used for this set of cupcakes minus a couple ounces of the cream.  I also used 1 cup shortening with 1 cup unsalted butter rather than 2 cups shortening.)

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I Told You…Commitment Issues!

I know…I know…more changes to Mommon Sense!  I told you I have commitment issues when it comes to aesthetic beauty!  And I believe I have proven that quite well!  You can have sympathy on Sean.  He never knows what he’s going to come home to…a new wall color, rearranged furniture (although I’ve been better about that one for quite some time), things HERE that were THERE and things THERE that were HERE!  The poor man!  But at least I keep him on his toes! =)

As for Mommon Sense, I just had some lingering desires that never got fully flushed out during the last overhaul/makeover, sooo…I had a little fun and voila! Hopefully no major changes will be coming anytime soon. (But I’m not making promises! =))

Hugs to you all…

Elizabeth =)

P.S.  Don’t you like my little title heading things over on the right? (You may have to scroll!)  I think they’re super cute! =)

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Making Life Easier #5: Accessible Flushable Wipes

Okay, so I don’t know what it is about the flushable wipes in my daughter’s bathroom, but they’re always out of reach when needed…which means I hear, “Mommy?….Mommy?!…MOMMY!!!”

So today with about sixty seconds and some Command Strips, I saved myself hundreds of trips up the stairs over the next year or so!  Woo-Hoo! (Although…I’m afraid this will greatly reduce what I consider to be part of my exercise routine!  Hmm…oh well!  I’ll let you know if my rump gets bigger!) =)

And now in Vanna White-like fashion (yet again)…TA-DA!

Easy to use! Easy to refill! And the best part...

It's hidden from the doorway!

Pretty cool, huh?!  Have a fabulous weekend! =)

Oh, by the way…you could probably make something a lot more pretty using this concept, but my goal wasn’t crafty this time.  It was something quick…something easy!  But by all means, get creative! =) If you do exactly what I did, put the hinged side down so the wipes are more easily accessible.  Also, the underside of the case is not flat (it curves making it not flush with the cabinet) so I doubled the Command Strips to make them thicker! Super simple! See you next week…

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Wordless Wednesday: Mommy’s Hot Date!

“Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

Ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba…”

So Happy Together by The Turtles

Linked up for Wordless Wednesdays at Project Alicia, The Paper Mama, 5 Minutes for Mom, & And Then, She Snapped

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Before Becoming Your Mom

Dear Layla and Kenley,

It may be difficult to imagine, but I wasn’t always a mommy.  I wasn’t always a wife.  And being the curious little girls that you are, I thought you might find it interesting one day to know who I was before the titles of Mrs. and Mommy! So here’s a little list to get you started…

1.  From the ages 3 to 5, I lived in Puerto Rico.  You could see the ocean from our front yard where we had a hammock that swung between two coconut-filled palm trees.

2.  I had two baby chicks as a little girl.  Their fuzz was dyed blue and orange and I named them Cindy and Mindy, but later found out they were boys!

3.  I played soccer for almost 8 years.  I can still hear Papa (my dad) on the sidelines, “Goooo, Girl!”

4.  I water-skied as a kid!

5.  Your dad turned me down when I asked him to our eighth grade dance.  Punk!

6.   My first kiss was in a high school play…AWK-WARD!

7.  I graduated summa cum laude and sang the class song at my high school graduation, Sarah McLachlin’s “I Will Remember You”, but ironically I don’t remember a whole lot!

8.  I was a theatre major in college (directing and performing).  Coolest moment… Doo-wopping while wearing a sequenced dress, gloves, feather boa, and hair extensions!

9.  I taught middle school theatre before marrying your dad. I was known as the crazy teacher who sometimes dressed like a mime and didn’t speak the entire school day!

10.   While I was teaching, your dad made up for being a punk in his earlier years and took me to the eighth grade dance! =)

Well, that’s just a little about my adventures before diapers and dishes!  My greatest adventures have been with you and your dad though…and something tells me the most exciting have yet to come!  I look forward to telling you more and showing you lots of pictures one day.  And I hope you will be able to look back on your own early years with the same joy and fondness I am. I love you both and look forward to sharing the past, present, and future with you…

Love always,

Mommy

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Expect the Unexpected: Christmas 2011

Ballerina Ornament5pm Christmas Eve…I arrive at the church early for a sound check. The plan? Rehearse a solo for the evening’s service. Upon my arrival, I realize people are a little frantic, making last minute adjustments. No problem, I’ll sit and wait until they need me. Five minutes pass…ten…fifteen…thirty. Families begin to arrive and it becomes clear that there won’t be an opportunity to do a sound check. “Oh well…no big deal!” I think to myself. I’ll “go with the flow…roll with the punches!” (My motto I’ve been trying to adopt over the last month.) So I’m doing pretty good, keeping it together…not too frazzled…not too stressed…at least for the moment!

Time check…fifteen minutes until the service starts. I look down at my CD…sudden panic! Am I holding the wrong CD??? MUST. FIND. A CD PLAYER!!! The gentleman doing sound is busy taking care of other important issues so I run…room to room…downstairs, upstairs, back downstairs. I finally find one. I put the CD in…no power! Plug…plug…where’s the plug? Ah, plug! I plug it in…Good! It’s working!…NOT good!…Totally wrong song! Seriously?! I grabbed the wrong CD from the car!

I RUN…back upstairs, grab a cell phone, and call my husband who is driving to the church in the car WITH the CD. I rush to the entrance to wait for Sean (the hubby). Finally, I see him quickly approaching, CD in hand. He gives me the hand off…I run to the sound booth. I pass off the CD with literally three minutes to spare. Phew!

I take a deep breath, straighten my clothes, and calmly make my way to the rest of our family when I hear a sudden, “Elizabeth! Layla’s throwing up!” WHAT? I rush to the other side of the pew and my poor little three year old is getting sick. Oh, and its bad…bad! My poor baby! I yell for Sean and he comes running. Without a bit of hesitation, he scoops her up and tells me not to worry, he’ll take care of her! I look at the clock…two minutes! Myself and others run to get stuff to do clean up. (Did I mention it’s an upholstered pew? Ugh!) The service is starting…the rest of the clean up will have to wait.

What do I do? On the run…again…I look for Sean and Layla! I check the bathrooms, not there! Down the stairs I go and there I find them. I grab the car keys from Sean, run up the stairs and outside, desperately clicking the remote. Where are you, Car?! A-ha! Finally a flash of lights! Got it! Run to the car, open the trunk, throw Christmas gifts to the side. Clothes for Layla, clothes for Sean, check! Slam the trunk and run…in the church…down the stairs…to the bathroom. Sean assures me they will be fine and tells me to run back up so I will be there in time for singing. Not really wanting to leave, but also not wanting to cause a huge disruption by NOT being there, I give hugs and run!

Before entering the sanctuary I take a deep breath, open the door quietly, and carefully find my way to my family. (Side note: I totally almost sit in the seat where Layla got sick. Thank you to my sister for saving me!) It turns out I still have a little time before the song. I just breath…slowly. A few minutes later I feel my hubby’s hand on my shoulder. We sit with Layla and she just lays against me. My heart sinks. She had been SO excited about Christmas…SO excited. And now, the poor thing is sick!

Honestly, by this point, part of me doesn’t want to sing. I’m drained, exhausted, and just too distracted.

But I look down at Layla and I’m reminded of the multiple times she has requested I sing this very song to her over the last few weeks…and that reminder makes it a little easier to get up…and sing.

She continued to be sick throughout the evening. Christmas Day was better, but then she relapsed and poor Sean fell victim too…as well as several other family members!

Sometime on Christmas Eve my mom had told me, “Expect the unexpected!” I honestly don’t remember at what point she said it, but it certainly stayed with me.

I did my best to “go with the flow and roll with the punches” that night and the days that followed, but I had so many plans and ideas of how things were SUPPOSE to be! And because of that, when all was said and done, I was a bit disheartened. That is…until last night.

As we put the girls to bed, I laid my head next to Layla’s and asked if she enjoyed New Year’s. With a big grin, she said, “Yes!” Then with utter glee on her face she added, “And I LOVED Christmas! And next year…I’ll be FOUR YEARS OLD on Christmas!” In an instant, she shamed me! How spoiled I am! Here, I had been so focused on what didn’t go according to plan, and yet my little one had been sick through it all, and still managed to come away with joy and anticipation for the coming year. Hmph!

A stomach bug, a wrong CD…but it was still Christmas! And with the help of a three year old, I realized that even with the craziness, it was a beautiful Christmas…one filled with my mom’s traditional Puerto Rican meal on it’s Eve, panettone on Christmas Morning, laughing over our brother-in-law’s drawing that we thought for SURE was done by our four year old nephew, watching Layla open her much anticipated Potato Head, Kenley with her new baby doll, reading our Christmas story while making animal sounds, and of course…singing as a family in the church that Sean and I grew up…got engaged…and married in. It wasn’t the Christmas I planned…but it was a Christmas I’ll never forget…a Christmas where my three year old showed me that whether the expected or unexpected happens, I still have MUCH to be thankful for! =)

Happy New Year!

 

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Until the New Year…

 

From our house to yours…Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!!

Thank you for being a part of my journey through motherhood.  I wish peace and joy for each and every one of you.  Please enjoy a safe and wonderful holiday and I will see you in the New Year! Love to you all…

Elizabeth, Sean, Layla, & Kenley

Mommon Sense will return Jan. 2012!!! (Man, I finally got used to writing ’11!)

 *This would be Day 10 for our 12 Days of Christmas on Facebook. If you haven’t checked out Mommon Sense on facebook, go take a gander! =)

 

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2-in-1 Christmas Cookie Recipe (12 Days of Christmas: Day 8)

‘Tis the season for baking and since I’m not much of a baker, I limit myself to our very favorites! I present to you Chocolate Mint Cookies and for those crazies that do not like mint, like my husband…Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies!

To date this has been an easy, super consistent recipe, as well as a crowd-pleaser (unless people are lying to me…which is always possible!) The original recipe is made with chocolate covered mint candies, but Sean, the hubby, thinks mint only belongs in toothpaste. So I, being the incredible wife that I am (ahem), split the recipe and use miniature peanut butter cups on half of the cookies.

The cookie itself is a soft, chewy chocolaty heaven in your mouth and then you hit the cool minty (or creamy peanut buttery) center. Super yummy!

So, grab your apron and a couple bowls and enjoy some cookie-making! Or if you’re already cookied-out from the holidays, try it out in the New Year (it’s not just a “Christmas cookie”). =)

Ingredients:

- 3/4 cup unsalted butter

-1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

- 2 Tbs. water

- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

- 2 large eggs

- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

- 1/2 tsp. salt

- 4 oz. pkg. Junior Mints (if you plan to split the recipe, you need approx. 18 junior mints, plus some to nibble on while you’re baking =))

-approx. 9-10 Reese’s miniature peanut butter cups cut in half (again, plus a few extras for taste-testing, quality control, etc.)

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, sugar, and water. Stir until melted. Remove from heat, add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Set aside to cool for approximately 10 minutes. After cooling, pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and beat in eggs (one at a time). In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Then gradually stir the flour mixture into the chocolate. Once the dough has formed, cover and refrigerate approximately one hour.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll cookie dough into rounded tablespoon-sized balls or use a cookie scoop and place 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until cookies appear to be done. After removing baked cookies from oven, gently press either a junior mint or half of a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Allow to sit 1-2 minutes, then swirl the melted candy with the tip of a butter knife (or utensil of choice). Eat right away if you can’t resist (CAUTION: HOT!)…or allow to cool and the candied center to harden.

Enjoy! =)

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Desperate Times…Desperate Measures! (12 Days of Christmas: Day 5)

So yesterday was our Christmas musical at church and I was one of the five singers out in front. I tell you that so you can understand my little blunder! You see, I am a time-challenged person…majorly time challenged. You can ask anyone who knows me! No matter how hard I try, I always struggle to be on time for things. And trust me…this does not play well with the type-A in me! So naturally I was terrified I would be late Sunday morning…that I’d oversleep (hence I woke every hour in a panic to check the clock), spill my coffee on my outfit (hence no coffee that morning), or have a last minute diaper to change (hence I left before Sean and the girls so he would get stuck with any last minute changes…thanks, Babe!). And I’m proud to announce that not only did I arrive on time, but early! (Applause) Thank you! Thank you!

So I made my way around the church dropping off little Christmas gifts to some lovely people and then began to head to warm-ups. That’s when it happened! Someway…somehow…I lifted my foot…and snagged my tights with my boot! I felt the tug…looked down…and there it was…a hole!

Now I may be half Puerto Rican, but these legs haven’t seen sunlight in a while. Add that to black tights and that hole was like a full moon on a dark night! I will say it wasn’t big, but little by little that pinhole became a dime and then a nickel! It had to be stopped! I ran frantically from room to room looking for every female I could find. Hairspray? Clear nail polish? No! I checked my watch…I was still okay on time, but didn’t have long. What was I going to do? Even if I found something to keep the hole from growing, it was still a hole! And my “bright-as-day” leg was saying, “Look at me! Look at me!”

One last classroom…aha…my dear friend, Emily! While trying to appear calm, but inwardly shouting, “Pah-leeeeease, help me!” I ask for thoughts, ideas, solutions…ANYTHING! And like a guardian angel there to save the day, she shrugs and says, “You could color your leg black!”  GENIUS! Why didn’t I think of that? And like a desperate fool, I grab a black marker, run to the restroom, paint my leg black, and make it breathless, just in time for warm-ups!

And I’ll tell you…that little black marker?…Worked like a charm! =)

P.S.  If you haven’t already done so, you can check out the Mommon Sense Facebook page for the previous “12 Days of Christmas”. =)

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Guess Who’s Walking?!

Important announcement!  Drum roll, please?…WE HAVE A NEW WALKER IN THE FAMILY!!!  Woo-hoo!

At the precocious age of 17 months, Kenley has finally decided to throw caution to the wind and walk on her own!  For a short period of time, I thought I might be carrying this child to her first college course!

We’ve known she’s had the ability to walk for quite some time, but she’s struggled with the courage (which is kind of insane if you knew this child).  But indeed the day arrived when she would finally release her little clutched hands from any and every object or being near her and take not one, not two, but multiple steps!  (Sean, the hubby, insists that she’s been practicing when nobody’s been looking.  I wouldn’t put it past her!) And, of course, the grand moment occurred when Mommy wasn’t around! (That stinker!)

Kenley was standing beside her big sister’s bed and Sean called her over, fully expecting her to go to her knees and crawl.  But instead she just started walking!  Sean’s jaw dropped to the floor! After the shock, he and Layla cheered for little Kenley.

What is THAT all about?!  Here I’ve been trying to coax with baby dolls, stuffed animals, chocolate even! (Sorry, but I’ve been desperate!) And without even being asked, she just suddenly does it?!!

Admittedly, when my husband first told me, I was slightly devastated.  I’m with her ALL the time!  And she goes and denies me the right to see her first steps?  I mean sure I’ve seen a single desperate lunge from one piece of furniture to another, but not REAL steps!

I did quickly come to my senses and realize that I have the privilege of witnessing all sorts of “firsts” with the girls and how nice this was for Sean to be the first to witness Kenley walking.  So I had the brief “awwww moment” and then, of course, I had to make my attempt at getting her to walk!  So skipping all the little details, she did!  She toddled to me, hands-free, arms open wide, and gave me the tightest, longest, absolute bestest hug she’s ever given me! It was heavenly!

Okay, so I guess she kind of made up for the whole “walking for the first time when Mommy wasn’t around” thing, but still…I plan to hold that over her head until she’s at least eighteen! =)

And now, for your viewing enjoyment, Kenley’s new moves…

 

 

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