Sunday, March 27, 2011

S'mores cupcakes

This is not a random mound of marshmallows. 
This is Baby V (top - 20 weeks) meets Baby G (bottom -24 weeks). 
The other day I got to spend the day with my dear friend Chrissy. When deciding how we were going to spend our time, there seemed to be no better option than to bake (which we do very well). When one of us mentioned cupcakes and found this recipe, it seemed like the PERFECT remedy to any pregnancy craving (or non-pregnancy craving as my husband discovered). It was also very fitting since Chrissy and I grew up together and were Girl Scouts from the early Daisy days. We have toasted many S'mores throughout our friendship. Now, we shall pass this love on to our children...

What you need for these yummy cupcakes:
cupcake liners (makes about 24)
7 whole graham crackers coarsely copped
1 cup sour cream
1 package chocolate cake mix (I used vanilla, which was fine!)
1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 milk chocolate bar - crumble bits for garnish
Marshmallow frosting (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake tin with paper liners
2. Place 1 Tblsp of graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of each liner.  Set these aside and reserve the remaining graham cracker crumbs for the garnish.  Also set aside 3 Tblsp of sour cream for the frosting. 
3. Place cake mix pudding mix, remaining sour cram, water, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl - blend.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup.  Place pan in the oven.
4. Bake until they spring back when lightly pressed (19 to 22 min).  Place on a wire rack to cool.
5. Prepare the filling and the marshmallow frosting:
Chocolate filling (this makes a lot, it can be saved or used for another frosting):
1 package chocolate pudding mix
2 cups of whole milk
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
2 Tblsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Marshmallow frosting:
1 jar (13oz) marshmallow creme (fluff)
3 Tblsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Remove the lid from the jar of fluff and place in microwave for approx 45 seconds.  Scrape fluff out of the jar and into mixing bowl.  Add sour cream and vanilla extract.  With an electric mixer, beat the mixture on med speed until fluffy and well blended (about 1 min). 

Fill your cupcakes and frost.  Garnish with the extra graham cracker and chocolate pieces.
Enjoy the combination of S'mores flavors without a campfire, but all of the gooey goodness!
Above is my new cupcake pan (yes, I like cupcakes so much that I had to purchase this fancy pan) - the red silicone tip adds the center for filled cupcakes.  See below for a regular cupcake pan option.
Here is an option from Baking Addiction (how to fill cupcakes), which uses an apple corer.  And if you have some extra time, check out her latest recipes...the pictures alone are quite enticing! 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring dress

I keep meaning to post the quick and easy basics of the pinafore dress, but I have yet to master the art of taking photos as I work.  Typically I sew while Julia be-bops around with her toys.  In an hour of sewing, I spend at least 45 minutes attempting to assure that she doesn't grab the iron or eat a button.  She is really interested in my machine and likes to think that she can create something.  She sits at the machine and says, "I can do it" and "yes, I can".  Latetly she sound like a little motivational speaker. 
Anyway, sewing is the least child-proof hobby there is.  Unless you're in to sky diving.
I have made a few dresses and have captured little bits of each project. In the meantime, I attempted this Snappy toddler dress by Prudent Baby for a friend's little girl.  Prudent Baby has some great ideas - everything from party inspiration to rainy day ideas to sewing tutorials.  I had to adapt the pattern to make it a bit bigger, but it turned out smaller than expected, so I kept it for Julia. It actually fits her perfectly!
She has yet to wear it, but it is the perfect WELCOME SPRING dress.
PS. I love Amy Butler fabric.  This is currently on sale through Sew Mama Sew's site.  A great deal and a little bright spot in my day.  I am easily amused by pretty fabrics....and nice paper and current episodes of Modern Family.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's adventure O' the day

I must have an ounce of Irish in me somewhere along the lines of my heritage, but I have mostly lived vicariously through my best friend Jilly as I have always tagged along with her festivities (she's not even 100%Irish, but she embraces every ounce she has!)  Since Jill and I no longer live together, I've had to dig deep for some motivation to celebrate this day.  It's not hard...wear green (check), go hear some good Irish music (check - later tonight), pretend like you're Irish for the day.  I decided to let Julia join in on the fun, so we tuned into some Irish music on Pandora and embarked on an Irish lunch adventure:
Green Eggs and Ham.
I must digress one moment to acknowledge my latest love for eggs.  I have been buying them from my co-worker who raises his own chickens.  I love listening to his farming endeavors and how much he loves raising chickens.  Even better?  Their yolks are a vibrant yellow and their taste surpasses any store-bought egg!  I am a huge fan of buying local and an even bigger fan of knowing exactly where the eggs come from and how the animals are treated.  These chickens are well loved and produce some of the most colorful eggs I've ever seen.  I love just looking at them. 

 So when lunch was looking a little boring, I was inspired to add a little green to our day.  I'm not a huge fan of food coloring, but one drop goes a long way. 
Here we are, green eggs and ham (inspired by St. Patty's Day with a little help from Dr. Seuss).

We had a yummy lunch while serenaded by an Irish jig. 
Jilly, it's not too late to come and celebrate with us!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Parenting 101

This photo was a rare opportunity to capture my true child.  
Most other moments today would be characterized as a "terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day".  It started with a missed nap and was filled with temper tantrums, a few chosen items thrown across the room, 2 "stop it mommy" statements, plenty of "I don't like it"'s, numerous attempts to climb down the stairs, and a boycott of most of her meals (except for the chocolate dessert at lunch).  
Despite all of that, this day was one of my favorites.  Why?
1) We are in Delaware.
2) Spring provided a glimmer of hope that it is right around the corner.
3) Lunch was spent celebrating my mommom's birthday as 5 generations sat around the table.
4) I have had some wonderful opportunities to spend time with my dearest friends and marvel at the fact that though life around us is drastically changing, our friendships are held fast and enduring.
5) I made 3 random purchases today that make me quite happy: a planner, a wallet, and a seersucker whale dress for Julia to wear this summer.
6) I took a nap 2 days in a row - a big deal, I know!
7) For some strange reason, baby #2 was doing flips and somersaults throughout the entire day - a constant reminder of his presence.
8) A random phone call from my sister always makes me smile and gives me perspective.
9) Tonight we spring forward.  
10) I watched Julia's eyes grow heavy as she fell fast asleep in my mom's arms tonight.  A sight that is so precious that it brings tears to my eyes.

Parenting is a challenging endeavor.  Parenting a 21-month old seems to belong in a whole separate category.  She is becoming too smart for her own good, but not quite at the point of recognizing where things go wrong.  I have had to conjure a great deal of patience and draw from the wisdom of friends who have gone through this stage already.  In the midst of all of this, life just gets more and more fun.  It is easy to become completely focused on assuring my child's good behavior, but when I do that I miss out on a lot.  Just when I think she has completely unraveled, she is fine and we are back on track.  I plan on ordering this picture to hang in our home.  It will be my forever reminder of the fact that though she'd had a melt down only seconds earlier, this precious moment was right around the corner.
Happy parenting to all of my friend's with 2-ish year olds!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thinking blue

It's a boy! 
I do believe that this revelation explains my strange urge for Captn' Crunch Berries every night and his nonstop movement (which may be due to the sugar rush).  The neatest part of knowing is thinking about how this will fit with our family.  Everything is difficult to imagine when you are having a baby.  One day they are joyous thoughts and dreams of who they will be and the next moment they are there with their own approach to life from the very beginning.  I laugh to myself whenever new parents try to meticulously plan what their immediate future will look like when the baby arrives.  It never works out that way and I think most people figure that out pretty quickly. 
This week we have been doing plenty of imagining.  When we found out on Monday morning, Charles and I had breakfast together to talk about our first thoughts.  He immediately thought that this child will pee all over everything.  I instantly had this sense that our house would never be quiet again.  We then spent a good deal of time excitedly thinking about how Julia will respond to it all.  Gender aside, both of us thanked God that he appears healthy and is growing right on target.  
Julia was indifferent to the news that she was having a brother, but she happily announced that she was having a "brudder" to her grandparents.  The next day, she made the announcement to our neighbors, but proudly stated "sister", which we had to correct.  She's not a very consistent announcer, I think she needs more practice.
The second trimester is a funny thing.  I have felt this renewed sense of energy and I feel absolutely wonderful, which is vastly different from a few months ago.  That energy has translated into the need to get everything in order from the baby's room to random closets.  I think my nesting instincts are kicking in much quicker this time.  This is when all of the good stuff comes together and I remember why I loved pregnancy so much the first time around.  Just feeling him kick is such a precious gift. 
In many ways this feels very similar to my experience with my first pregnancy.  The only difference is the time to document everything.  Charles took this picture the other day and I realized that it was my first pregnancy photo this time around.  As a second child myself, I vowed to be just as diligent in assuring that he gets the same time and attention, but I am already recognizing how difficult this is.
Here we are at 21 weeks - Julia is giving her little brother a sticker.  It doesn't give the full "belly shot" effect, but it's the best we've got so far.
And here are some fun pictures from our "adventure" night.  These are mundane weeknights where nothing fun is happening, so we make up our own adventures.  This involved the "adventure" song, my winter hat  (Julia's pick), and a box.  The other day our adventure was going to get the oil change. I find that just singing the adventure song puts me in a better mood about boring things, so it's a win/win for everyone.