Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why I Cry.

The Headlines:

I cry.

Sometimes in front of my children.

It helps me. 

Does it hurt them?

For as long as I can remember, I have cried.  I have always been an emotion ball.  Call it empathetic or pathetic, I cry.  As a little girl, I would sit on the couch in my house with my Mom and ball over an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  One of the best family shows of all time thank you very much!  Then, when the show was over - I was good.  I would saunter up to bed and sleep the night away.  Not a care in the world.  Mary may have lost her eye sight but I cried about it and moved on.

I contend that crying is not always bad.  But my daughter hates when I cry.

It is ugly.  I look really, super awful when I get to the Full Cry Eruption.  More on that later.  See, I've always had this lip thing.  Kinda like my daughter in the picture below.  But worse.  Our lips just automatically go in the downward position and it is truly devastating - looking - that is.  My son has the same lip look too… I'll be honest - it makes the person watching feel like one inch tall.  Especially, if it's aimed at you.  Horrible.

But back to the point:  crying can be good.  It lets me feel severe emotion and then release/relief.  I am often better because of a good cry.  I let it go.  It's gone.  It makes me wonder what happens to the people who never cry?  Do they not let it out?  Is it bottled up forever?  Some people probably just don't need to cry.  I think the only time I ever saw BP (the husband) cry was at our wedding.  He just doesn't do it.  Of course, that was one time I didn't cry.  Too many people.  Crying is more personal for me.  I don't like to do it in front of crowds.  I once saw a newscaster cry on live television when I was in a small market in Washington State.  It scarred me.  I vowed - never me.  But in private, I may do it like 5 times in a week.  Depending on the week.  Last week I cried when I read an email from my daughter's teacher, when I heard a man died whom I had never even met and as I was talking to a friend about…  I don't even remember.  Uh-huh.

But with all of that said, have you noticed?  All cries are different.  The following is my 
Cry Momentum Chart
at least in my eyes.  No pun… well, it was kind of intended.  Here goes...

Tickle Cry = a tiny welling up in the back part of your eye balls… I get this tickle and there's barely a glaze over.  That's me with a good Hallmark commercial.

Welling Water =  actual tear build up in the eye.  Possible but not probable a tear could fall out.  That's going to church: thinking about God's infinite love or a really good sermon.  It is the most common type of "cry" for me.

Random Tear Drop = out of the blue touched with a bolt of emotion.  For me, writing this blog sometimes brings one tear...  It also happened as I wrote touching stories in news.  I loved covering those stories.  They didn't happen often, but they did happen.

Bit of Blur = multiple tears that in turn make seeing a bit of a challenge.  That's me when I tuck in my children at night, say prayers and think.  The good thing is, usually, no one knows it's happening because my voice remains the same and it's dark.

Full Cry Eruption = that's the ugly cry.  It's super uncontrolled, awful to look at but the best to get out.   Me, watching "The Notebook" will always produce a Full Cry.  I can't even show my face the next day it's so puffy!  My eyes may even kind of ache a little.  It will take a whole day for my face to re-form again.  That's why this cry is the only one I truly do try to avoid at all costs.  It takes a lot, doesn't happen often and that's a very good thing.  For my face.

All of them can be healing and helping, to me, in their own ways.  The question is - is it good for my children?

My son doesn't see me cry - much.   One, because he's not really paying attention and two, because I'm not sure that he cares.  Sometimes he just looks, points and laughs.  He rarely comments.  The one time he did see a Full Cry Eruption (just after I heard my father had a supposed brain tumor - he didn't - it was an aneurysm instead) - he said to me, "Moms aren't supposed to cry!"

My daughter, on the other hand,  has always hated when I cried.  Just last night she told me it embarrasses her.  Odd to me, since I don't do it in front of her friends or anything.  At age 2… I would shed a tear and she would stand paralyzed in amazement.  She would take her finger and go right up to the source… my eyeball... and touch it.  It was as if she was trying very hard to dissect and determine -  what was this wetness?  Where did it come from?  How do I make it stop?

I try to explain all crying isn't bad.  Some people cry when they're happy, I say.  Others cry to get them through something unusual.  For me, it's more often than not, feeling empathy, appreciation or total emotion.  But, for my daughter, it's as if she doesn't buy it.  Like, she believes, if I cry something is very wrong and she may need to worry.  The last thing I want is to hurt her with my tears.  Ironically - and you know what I'm talking about all you mama's out there - she cries from time to time and my little guy cries almost everyday about something.  No one flinches.  It's business as usual.  But yes, I know, I'm the Mom.

Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a day where she will understand that it's okay to cry.  I keep waiting.  She's 8 now.  I really want her to sit on that couch, watch Little House on the Prairie with me… and cry.  But maybe she's like her dad.  Crying won't be her thing - like it is mine.  

In any case, my question remains: does my crying hurt my kids?  Does it show weakness and uncertainty that is bad for children to witness?  For the record,  I can cry several times in a week but I do NOT weep uncontrollably everyday.  Really I don't.  But maybe my daughter sees it that way?  So, what do you really think?  Do you cry in front of your kids?  Or am I the only blubbering mama out there?

Sniff Sniff.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chill Chili. It's what's for Halloween.

The Headlines:

Make this chili.

It's the easiest recipe you'll ever find.

That's why I call it the CHILL Chili.

I love chili.  Who doesn't really?  I mean, it's good stuff.  And it just makes you feel like fall.  Even when it's 90 degrees still.  Like here in Arizona!  In any case, it's just the perfect thing to eat on Halloween.  Especially if you have a big group coming over.  In fact, if you haven't a clue what to serve Friday.  Problem solved.  You're serving this.

There are so so many chili recipes out there.  Like… so so so many.  And most of them are all good.  Each has their own little tweak to make it special.  The Chill Chili is special because while it is very good - it took you maybe all of 3 minutes to "make!"  Yep, in my book - too many steps and ingredients can be very overrated.  My friend gave this recipe to me last week and I made it like 2 days later.

The Chill Chili.

Here's what you need:
1 can white corn
1 can golden corn
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 64 ounce Pace Picante Mild Salsa

Here's what you do:
Drain and rinse all the beans/corn… place in crockpot.  Add salsa.  Turn crock pot on high for 4 hours. Serve with all the usual: shredded cheese, onions, tortilla chips, sour cream.  The tortilla chips, in my opinion (and cheese of course), makes this dish SING!

Optional: Meat.  Briefly brown and season ground beef if you want to add it to the mix.  Then throw it in the slow cooker too.

Is that crazy easy or what?  Totally my kind of recipe.  It may not win an award or anything but it will get the job done.  Wait a second… I take that back.  My friend did say she won a chili award with it once, no joke!

Here's my daughter eating the leftovers a couple days later.  I think it may even be better after it sits - the flavors really settle into each other.

Yep, this recipe rules and it's easier than taking candy from a Zombie Queen.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.  Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Greatness of a Photo

The Headlines:

We live in the age of digital pictures.

But there's something to be said for printing those puppies out…

Especially for children.

Here's why. 

I know, I know… many of us never hold a copy of a picture in our hand anymore.  They're all in our phones, iPads, computers… on Facebook or Instagram… we can look at them whenever we want with the flick of a finger.  It's less costly and one less thing to put on the "to-do" list.  I get it.  But I maintain there's something to be said for looking at a paper picture, amongst others in an album.  Especially if you're under the age of 17.  Stay tuned, I'll explain.

First of all, I will say, I have always hated "scrapbooking."  I was not one of those women, 10 years ago, who collected all that cool paper, stickers, jewels… whatever that stuff was… and put it into one, amazingly detailed and over-the-top book.  No.  I even knew some gals who actually went to "scrap camp" every year.  Me?  I cringed at the thought of it.  I'm sure they probably went to escape the kids and have girl time but couldn't you do that at some beach or pool instead?  Then, I'd be all in.   Point is, scrapbooking - no… photo album - sure.  I'm talking about a simple book to place all your photos, chronologically, neatly and sweetly.  Like this.

I have been doing these since I was in high school.  Mainly because, my mom didn't.  She actually wouldn't let me see or touch the photos they took, which weren't many anyways.  They were all hidden away and therefore, I had this crazy desire to see them.  I remember wanting to know/see my personal history: what I looked like and who I was as a tyke.  So I would sneak looking at the pictures!  My parents never knew I was a "closet-family-photo-peeper.."  yep, that was seriously about the extent of my rebellion growing up.  Mom and Dad had it good!

But it led me to understand kids really want/need to see these family photos.  I think they're curious about their past so it can help define their future.  They also want to see they were loved and doted on.  It's important to them.  It gives them a sense of security.  The pictures printed are tangible.  Something they can physically wrap their hands around, frame, put on their cork boards.  And that means something to a child.  It's just different than looking at the I-Pad.  I maintain it's a tad better.  No, your child won't become a serial killer if they're pictures are all trapped on an I-Pad - nothing like that - but the paper photos or a photo album, much like a book, has a different and special purpose too!

So while I have my photo album… my daughter has this…

Ever since she was a wee one she fills, maintains and has full access to her own album so she can look at it whenever she wants.  She's loved it.  Same with the little guy.  This is him showing his album to our dog, Maverick!

If you're looking to try this… obviously you can find albums anywhere… I just got these at Target for like 10 bucks. 

But any kind will work.  Don't spend too much on them because the point is they're your child's.  My KOLO albums costs a lot to maintain.  Heck, I can't even get them in stores anymore - I have to order them and their re-fill pages on line so those they don't get handled very often.  The kid albums, on the other hand, get handled all the time.  They will get messed up.   But that's the point.    

My family and I treasure our little books.  They are so much more than what they seem.  Somehow they help provide clarity.  The pictures reassure us by showing happy times that help our memories recall feelings that may have long, gone dormant.  They remind us where we've been, who we were - what we are now and perhaps the pictures of yesterday gives us hints as to who we'll become tomorrow.  

they're just really fun to look at!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Right One.

The Headlines:

Finding a husband is easy.

Finding the right one is hard.  

How hard is marriage?  Let's be honest ladies.  It's stinking hard!

The easy part is the wedding.  That is usually just like the movies.  Lots of people, major money being thrown around, champagne, gifts, the good life.  But then after your honeymoon, it's just you and him.  The party is oh-vah!  Real life has begun.  That's the part brides and grooms tend to forget.  It's where the real work begins.  And if you and he aren't in sync… slippery roads ahead!  So finding the right one matters, on many levels.  There can be lots of right nows.  But thee - right one - you know, your person?  He who sticks with you from this point forward... they're out there… you just have the daunting task of finding them.

This past weekend I celebrated my Wedding Anniversary to the man I was born to marry.  How do you know who you're born to marry?  Some see it in their children, others feel it in a kiss and then there are those that just know by a laugh or a feeling.  I knew if I didn't marry this guy - someday I would regret it.

At the very core of each relationship it's the same.  Love, support, honor and respect.  Sounds easy enough but then personality, looks, attitudes, heck even smells - get in the way.  Once you're through the superficial stuff you have to get down to the meat of the matter.  Because if you find them - you have to trust them.  You have to be willing to open your heart and let someone else in.  Then, you have to trust that they will not only WANT in but that they will STAY in!  It's complex.  Getting it right is not for the faint of heart.  Keeping it is even harder.  But letting go could be the biggest mistake of all.

I am glad I took that leap of faith.  But it hasn't been easy.  BP (the husband) can be a real pain in the tush.  So can I.  Anyone who says their marriage is perfect is LYING.  Because people aren't perfect.  The big question is:
 can you put up with their amount of imperfection? 

If the answer is yes - then it's a go.  If it's a no - then it's a no go.  People will not change.  Especially for a relationship and especially if they're over the age of like 12.  

Why?  Because at the very core of every human being is (and should be) a certain amount of selfishness.  And in a sense, there has to be for self preservation.  So being selfish isn't a bad thing as long as it's met with a large dose of humility, empathy and kindness for the spouse.  For instance, a narcissistic person has a hard time of maintaining a healthy relationship.  I can attest to that as I witness a friend of mine go through a divorce whose husband is a complete narcissist pig!  But I digress… bottom line is: in a marriage everyone wants a piece of the pie but there's only so many slices to be cut.  Add kids to the recipe and the slices get even thinner.  We may want what we want when we want it… but so too may the children.  Whose slice gets smaller?  If you marry someone who doesn't understand that… right can go wrong in an instant. 

I met BP when I was in college.  20 years old.  Kids ourselves, way too early to get married.  I needed to take the time to grow, learn, seek, work, make mistakes.  We both did all of that.  We got married about 10 years later.  I've never looked back.  All in.  Forever.  My slices get very small sometimes and so do his, occasionally, but we're okay sharing with everyone. 

This weekend we did nothing over the top.  He gave me the flowers above.  I gave him a funky tie and some crazy dress socks (since they're so "in" right now!)  He also made some AMAZING beef ribs on the grill.  We opened up this bottle of wine.  Look closely at the label.

It's "Nicole's"  Red blend from the Alexander Valley.  Excellent by the way!  But the most important part was the card.  Every year he opens up his heart and his mind to me through his words.  As a communicator myself I need it.  He gets me every time.  From top to bottom.  Of course I write to him as well.   Far beyond "Happy Anniversary"… he deserves to be reminded how lucky I am to be with him.  Someone who could adore and support me, hold me but handle me…  A man who could be a kind father, leader, "fixer-upper" and entertainer.  A friend who listened, advised, provided and divided.  All of those things added up to be - the right one - for me.

The life we have made for each other is stunning and special and yes - far from perfect.   As I said before, nothing is.  But it is just right for us.

Hopefully yours is too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall BRACE is here!

The Headlines:

Fall "Break" is a farce.

It should be called Fall "Brace!"

Here's why.

I am dead serious.  The word "break" cracks me up when it comes to school "vacations"… it always seems like a glorious idea until life happens.  Kids arguing, urgent care visits, hot weather.  Break - my behind!

I vote we call it Fall Brace.  Why?  Because that's really what it is.  I am bracing myself for what this break and the rest of year holds.  This time "off" does give us a brief chance, hopefully, to get our lives a bit together - to possibly prepare ourselves for the rest of 2014.  In theory.

That's what I did at least, for the first couple days of our break this year.  BP (the husband) was home, the weather was warm but not quite hot so we went to a fun carnival the first day.  The kids got snow cones, balloons and their faces painted!

Then, I escaped to get my hair done, which means BP took over.  Life was feeling pretty good.  One Picky Chick was One Happy Mommy.  The next day, we headed to the pumpkin patch… McDonald's Ranch up in North Scottsdale.  I love that place, by the way, and they've added lots of new attractions this year including a train!  Anyways, the weather was getting a little warmer.  Bordering hot.  This is us overheating a bit.

That night we headed to a friends for dinner.  We went to bed early.   I was confident and bold - now THIS is what break is supposed to be!  I had so many things planned.  Like jam packed: play dates, parks, dinners with friends, museums, doctor/dentist appointments (not everything can be a party), bbqs, sleepovers.. you name it we had it planned!  Until reality hit.  It started early.  My son walked into my room Monday morning barely able to breathe.  His friend had croup and I knew our turn was next.  We have battled croup/stridor multiple times before so I knew what to do.  I got him to the breathing machine right away, gave him some Benadryl and headed into a nice, steamy shower.  AHHHHHHHH… nope.

That gave him a little break but after an early afternoon nap it was ON again.  Croup gets worse after a child sleeps.  **Sidenote.  If you have a breathing machine and a croupy kid… don't use Albuterol.  Only use Pulmicort.  Albuterol gave him only little relief.  Pulmicort is routinely used as a first line of defense at ER's.  So back to the breathing machine, shower routine - check.  Not making him better - oooops.  Call the doctor - check.  Closing in 15 minutes - crap.  Long story short… we ended up in the Urgent Care that night.  This is us there -

a spoon full of popsicle helped the medicine go down.  The medicine go dooooooowwwwwwwnn - medicine go down.  Get it?  Sorry.  I just love that song.  Good old Mary Poppins.

Therefore, our fun outing to the Children's Museum was canceled today.  Oh but not just because of my son sounding like a seal… but because my friend was sick also.  Yep, it has begun for her too.  See what I mean?

So, it's the middle of October and we are stuck in the house. Why?  Not just due to sickness but also because it's hot out there.  We're at that in between spot where it's a bit too hot to ride bikes and a bit too cold to go in the pool without heating it.  Around here, in Scottsdale Arizona, it's 95 degrees today.  But the longer you stay in the house - kids go crazy.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  I can NOT  tell you how many times we've had this conversation:

Me: who did (fill in the blank)?
Kids: I didn't do it.  He/she did!
Me: I don't care who did it.  Don't do it again.
Kids: silence.
Kids: yeeeeees.
Sound familiar?  I know the conversations are basically the same just in different households all over America.  I, on the other hand, like other American Moms… love being inside my house with "nothing" to do.  I can plan our lives, get organized, schedule appointments, write in my blog, clean, cook, as you know the list goes on and on.  And on.  It's just all the stuff that makes a Mom swoon.  Wait, that is so sad.  But true.  It's sadly true.

So as my kids are recuperating, arguing is happening and I am trying to plan… my Anniversary… which is this weekend by the way - WHAT TO DO?  I start to feel a tickle in my throat.  Could it be?  Is it starting already?  It's way too early for me.  It seems I was just thanking God moments ago for the Summer heat which zapped all our germs away!  Read the blog I wrote earlier this year about being a Super Sick Mom.  Click here for that.   Yes sickness happens - a lot - to children (and their Moms) which means a time bomb may be ticking inside of me as I sit.  Hmmmm... I wonder what would Mary Poppins do?

Whatever - Fall BRACE is here!

Friday, October 10, 2014

My daughter's beautiful belly.

The Headlines:

This post makes me sad to type.

My daughter thinks her belly is too big.

I think it's beautiful.

She's 8.

This morning my son, daughter and I went to the library together before school.. it was raining… as we walked we huddled under 2 umbrellas and sang "rain rain go away come again another day..." it was sweet and fun and we all giggled.  I think it may be a flash memory I'll carry forever.  If only it could BE like that forever.  But for some reason I think the tide is changing.

My daughter is a special little girl.  Isn't every girl… to their Mother?  When she is in pain I think I hurt more.  Most Moms do.  So this is not only confusing but difficult as I struggle through it.

I know a subject many girls struggle with… is their weight.  At one point in every girls life she looks at herself in the mirror and doesn't like what she sees.  It happens to everyone.  It's probably something we will deal with on and off forever.  I didn't like my body in high school.  I was a cheerleader and one of the football players used to put his arms out, near his hips and wobble back and forth as he walked when he saw me: to indicate that I had big hips.  I was a petite, curvy girl probably with a little "baby fat" still packed on.  Back then, I wished I had a boyish figure.  Straight up and down, stick skinny.  But alas… that was not to be!  I lost that "baby fat" finally in my 20's and have never really put it back on.  Weight hasn't been an issue for me for years.  I don't talk about it - I don't even get on a scale.  Ever.

So when my daughter, at 5 - in kindergarten, said to me… "why is my belly so big?"  I was a little taken aback.  "Huh?  Why? Did someone say something to you?"  No she explained, no one did, she just wanted to know.   I told her bellies are big when kids are little and as they grow, they stretch out.  It was dropped.

Until 1st grade when she asked again.  Again dropped.  

Then again in 2nd.  Nothing too serious… just here and there and I continued to reply, "little girl belies are supposed to be like that!"

But this year… she's talking about it a lot.  She is not a big girl.  In fact, she's just right.

But she sees herself in the reflection of our new shower glass.  And she sucks in her belly.  Then at dance class… where all the little girls wear those half tops and those bellies are in full view.  Last year, I made her cover up.  This year she wants to fit in because "everybody wears half tops!"  But she came home one week asking why some of the younger girls had a flat belly?  Remember: I said as a girl grows her belly stretches out!

Sometimes I feel like I am seeing the future.  And I am worried.  I want to help my daughter become a happy, healthy, self confident, strong, independent little girl.  But am I doing that?  Or is this an indicator that something's going awry?

I decided to check with her doctor and she says, after looking at her height and weight - she is completely normal and in no danger zone for being too heavy.

Now, I am changing my strategy.  I'm attacking it head on.  This afternoon I had an open discussion about her belly.  I told her if she had that belly on her for the rest of her life, could she still be happy?  Do you know what the answer was?


Ahhhhhh… that was surprising.  "Really?" I said, "your belly will determine your happiness?"  No she decided, it wouldn't.  But then she showed me what she wanted her belly to look like.  She really sucked it in.  Oh dear.  I reminded myself one of  BP's (the husband) favorite sayings: it's a marathon, not a sprint.

My daughter has always been such a hopeful, happy, easy little girl, since the day she was born.  My son on the other hand… can you say HANDFUL?   Is that a girl/boy thing?  Are boys just more difficult as babies and then it flips?  Girls are harder as they grow?  I'm actually asking you, the reader, this question - because I don't know the answer - though I have a feeling I'm about to find out.  I'd also ask you… if you've had this question of weight from your young girls (yet)?  Please leave comments if you have...

Yep, this morning my son, daughter and I went to the library, singing together in the rain before school.. such a precious and priceless pleasure.  If only we could sing in the rain together... forever.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Creeper-izing" Chandeliers...

The Headlines:

Sometimes the coolest decor.

Is the most simple.

It's funny.  I can do the most simple thing in the world, decorating wise.  Yet it brings in so many compliments.  That always stumps me.  You know what I mean?  Spend tons of money on something and no one gives it a second glance.  But something that costs pennies - people die!  Such is the case here.  I'm only doing a blog post because people are loving it.  And it was easier than waking up in the morning.

This idea "came to me"… when I saw it in my friend's house.  She had some simple skeletons hanging from her chandelier in her kitchen and it almost looked as if they belonged there!  I loved it.  So I ran right out and decided to copy her.  Best form of flattery… remember!

Here's what I came up with:

Creep Chandelier 

This is my new chandelier which I had installed a few weeks ago… I LOVE it!  The chandelier and the "creeperizing" of it!  I really like how when you look at the room you don't see it immediately… until you do.  See?

Here it is up close.   They couldn't fit in more perfectly!  And all for like, maybe 50 cents, from Michael's!  But hurry, they're going fast!

Then, our next door neighbor gave my kids some more skeleton bodies and we hung them here…

If I had more… I would do more… but this will have to suffice because I'm over "hunting for Halloween" this year.  

I will say this:  I think they key here between this decor looking chic and cheap is color.  If the color kind of coordinates with the chandelier it works better.  It seems like it's supposed to be there.

Bottom line for my Halloween decorating = simple: something that actually sticks with my "defined style".  I won't do dancing pumpkins, or witches that mechanically pop out at you… but you can.  If it's parallel to your "defined style."  Not sure what that is?  Check out my older post here … it will explain and shed a whole new light on the way you decorate!  


Monday, October 6, 2014

Boo Cupcakes!

The Headlines:

These cupcakes are perfect for your Halloween Party.

Easy to make.

Complete with a surprise inside! 

Plus, delicious beyond belief.

What's black and white and yummy all over?  THESE CUPCAKES!  Major yum.  Not to mention - a BOO - surprise inside!  Couldn't be more perfect for this holiday.  Trust me.  I'm not going to lead you astray on such an important day.  I know how big these Halloween Parties are!

This cupcake will make a glorious addition to any October event.  It's a chocolate cupcake, with dark chocolate icing and a scrumptious filling.

Boo Cupcake!

So you look at it thinking: cool it's a cupcake.  But you bite into it and find something totally different:  chocolate cupcake - yes - but with a burst of creamy, coconut heaven that just dances all over your mouth!  Just watch their faces!  And coconut in October?  Even better!

It's like the cupcake just screamed Boo!  How perfect is that?

Okay here's what you need for it:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tspns baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
2 and 1/4 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk

1/2 stick unsalted butter (softened)
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tblspns milk
1 tblspn coconut extract
1 pound pre made dark chocolate frosting (if you want to take the easy route, which, gotta be honest here… sometimes I do!)

Heat oven to 350.  Put cupcake liners in muffin tray.  In a bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Then beat the butter and sugar in a large  bowl on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating them in.  Then add flour mixture, low speed, alternating with milk.  Divide batter into cupcake tray.  Should make 18 cupcakes.

Bake for about 15-17 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean! Cool cupcakes completely… 

While cooling, make the filling.  Beat butter, shortening, confectioners sugar and milk until smooth.  Mix in coconut extract.  Put all of it into a large ziploc bag and cut of a small corner at the bottom.  Jab that corner into the top of the cooled cupcake and push in the filling.  The side will bulge out a bit and you're done.  It goes in surprisingly well actually.  From now on, you'll always want to add fillings to your cupcakes!  Then spread on the chocolate frosting to hide the "break in" point!  

I added cool little spider rings I found at target.  They look super awesome!  Then line them up on your display tray of choice and you're ready to party!  They'll be the hit of the night, day, afternoon… whenever you choose to serve them.

Looks like ghosts cupcakes inside... but SOOOOOOO much better!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Snuggle Puppy!

The Headlines:

This book is fun and perfect for bed!

See/read why… below.

I don't know about you… but sometimes we get to bed late.  For whatever the reason… getting my daughter from dance, we went out to dinner, all heck is breaking loose for whatever the reason - you get my drift.  As we all know there are just reasons that little kids can hit the hay later than normal.


In our house, bedtime for my 3 year old is 7:45.  Well, let me be clear, we head in to his room at that time and I hope he's asleep by 8:00.  But before that happens, we have to sing, pray and read 3 BOOKS.  Yep, every night - THREE.  I started that when he was like 1 and it has continued.  But you probably know and have experienced - books -  as children age, get longer.  Mmmm -hmmmmmm.  Meaning 3 books can turn into 3 looooooooong books.  And he needs to get to bed!  Therefore,  I have a stash of good, short books reserved for those late nights.  At the top of that list is this:

Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton.

It's a song as much as it is a book.  She has a series of books out, we have read MANY of them.  Some are good, some are great… and some are just confusing.  We read one about hippos the other night and when we were finished my son looked at me and in all seriousness said, "I don't get that."  I replied, "neither do I" and we laughed! 

But Snuggle Puppy, we have fun with… there's no deep meaning… (like I think Pete the Cat and his 3 Groovy Buttons has a super great message - to hear/see that go here ) no, Snuggle Puppy represents something different yet necessary in a child's life.   It's just a sweet, simple, reassuring love song that you can sing to your little "snuggler"… quickly.

and once you get the beat down… you barely even need the pages.  Sometimes my son and I will just break into song at our house in the middle of the day.  See what I mean below. 

That is me and my 2 kiddos reading the book in the middle of the afternoon yesterday.  You can preview it to see if you want to invest in the book yourself.  

I was the shooter, obviously, and yes I got cut off at the end of the book… but you get the point.  Now, go snuggle your own puppies because I know you want to!!! 

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