Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 Tips to Turn Your House into a Beach House!

The Headlines:

No matter where you live...

Bring the Beach in! 

Here are 5 ways to do that.

This is my most favorite time of the year.  Summer.  I know many of you love when the holidays arrive:  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year it's all so festive.   But, for me, there is something really special about Summer.  The feeling (it's more carefree), the vacations, the weather, the water.... the DECOR!

Yea, that's what I really love.

Decorating for Summer.  "Summer-izing!"  I grew up at the beach but I don't live there now.  I'm landlocked here in Scottsdale, Arizona.  But that doesn't stop me from bringing the beach TO ME!

How do you do it?  Don't go overboard if you don't have the cash.  There's certainly lots of expensive ways to "Summer-ize" your house but it's not always necessary.

It can be easy, and INexpensive, if you pay attention to these 5 Tips:

1 - Sea Glass

It doesn't even have to be the real stuff.  They sell it everywhere these days.  Simply put this glass in a beautiful jar (below) or as a bottom layer in a vase (above).  However you use it - it will always look cool!

2 - Make a Summer Wreath

I've always loved a good wreath.  For the longest time, I looked for one to help accessorize my Summer decor... but found nothing.  That's when I decided to make one.  You can too!
First, find a grapevine wreath... they're inexpensive (at Michael's).  Then, just grab your glue gun, some stuff you want to stick on there and go to town!

3 - Use lots of Turquoise (aqua)! 

The clock strikes Summer and I put Turquoise (aqua - whatever that color is) EVERYWHERE.  It just yells SUMMER FUN!  It really should be named the official-color-of-Summer if you ask me.  It's found all over my house May-September and it's heavenly.  In pillows (above), in candy (below)

I buy towels...

and even napkins in the color.

Just sprinkle Turquoise/aqua/light blue all over the place and you may start to hear waves crashing just beyond your front door.

4 - Natural Elements
This is a no brainer.  Bring in those Sea Shells.  Put them anywhere you can stick 'em... on the coffee table

 Under the coffee table...

On a ladder...

In the shower...

As a soap dish (this is in my daughter's bathroom - otherwise that soap would be - YOU GUESSED IT - Turquoise)!

But don't limit yourself to just Sea Shells... think all natural elements like Sea Grass (below) and even SAND!

Not sure how environmentally PC it is... but I grabbed a little sand from the beach I grew up on and I use it, almost every year, here... as a filler in my candle hurricanes.

Natural, beautiful and Summery!  Oh what a wonderful world....

5 - Signs 
Finally, if people aren't getting the feel of Summer with all the other tricks - spell it out for them.  Literally.  Put fun signs up that tell people to chill out and enjoy the Summer Sun.  That arrow (below) is pointing to the "Beach..." even though it IS 300 miles away!

I made the sign below, years ago...

Finally, check out my "Relax" sign that's pictured first up on this post.

Inspired yet?!  Now, take all those ideas into each room and turn your house into your very own beach house this Summer!  Hmmmmmm... does that mean you can cancel vacation and just stay home?  Naaaahhhhhh!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Time Flies When You're Living the Dream.

The Headlines:

Why is is that time flies when you're 88...

But crawls when you're 8?

Because dreaming about life is easy.

Getting the dream takes a lot of work.

Yesterday, on my little boy's last day of 3's Pre-school he was bubbling over with excitement saying:
"I can't wait 'til I'm in the 4's class... I just can NOT wait."
He paused for a a few seconds and then added,
"Mom, how many years 'til I'm in the 4's class?"
"Not years buddy... months... 3 months until you're in the 4's class!"

But to a little guy like him it may seem like years until he starts his next pre-school class.  Think back.  Remember how it used to take FOREVER to reach Christmas after Summer break?  Yes, when you're a child, time seems to go by so very very slowly.  But as you grow... something happens and all of the sudden - time speeds up faster than a lightning strike.

The past few weeks, the constant chatter here is all about the end of school.  In Scottsdale, Arizona, our school year concludes before Memorial Day Weekend.  Another year in the books.  2014-15 is about to turn the page forever.  "Where did it go?"  all the Moms wonder.  It seems like just yesterday I was volunteering to be the Room Mom in my children's classrooms.   Now, we're preparing for the "End of the Year Party."  And I'm not sure how we got here.

Ask my daughter or son and they may disagree.  It's the typical children's, "are we there yet?" mentality.  In this case, we are there.  But what seemed like a flash to me was one long drive for them.  Why is that?  Why does time go so fast the older we get?

Do I dare I say it's because, as adults, we're busy working?  And not necessarily at a job.  I think... time flies because we adults are pursuing our dream.  Many of us, using up every last second trying to do something incredible.

If you're not working to earn money, you're improving your house, trying to help your children, maybe perfecting your margarita or taking the best picture.  Perhaps you're training to do the hardest marathon or finding just the right out-fit.  You could be busy planning an amazing vacation or the perfect party.  It's all "work".  It all takes time.  And it all flies.

On the other hand, our children take those same minutes to play.  Sure, they do some work.  Be it homework, maybe sports, they read, do chores.  But mostly - they just be.  And dream.  About what they want to be or do... someday.  So time seems to drag on and on and on.

My daughter's last day of 3rd grade is tomorrow.   As she finishes, I will take comfort in the fact that she will enjoy the day as she wishes it away into the next.  And I will remind myself to relish the moments as I live out the dream that once danced in my head as a child.

To Summer...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Silent Slip - When Children Almost Drown

The Headlines:

School's almost out.

Pool play will soon be in full swing.

Drowning won't happen to you...

Until it does.

Every year, about this time of year,  as a news reporter, you always do that first warning story about drowning.  Then, some months later you do the second one.  The one where someone, most likely a child, died.  And sadly, throughout the Summer, you never stop those reports.  The numbers just climb.  As a person watching the news I'm sure you sit back and wonder: "what are these people thinking?"  "how can this happen?" and "I would never let something like that happen to my child..." because that's what I thought.

Until it happened to each of my children.  Separate times.  Different pools.  About the same age.

Let me preface this by saying my children, fortunately, are very much alive.  The stories I'm going to tell you about were no where near official drownings or near drownings.  In fact, what I've been told about near drownings... is that they're almost more detrimental than the real thing.  Because the person is still there, but not really.  Often, they're left brain dead.  So, when the news reports on a near drowning and you breath a sigh of relief... don't.

When I moved to Arizona, as a beach girl, I was very much against getting a pool.  Not only was the beach everything to me but I also knew someday I wanted to have kids.  I did NOT want to be a statistic.  I thought pools and I would stay friends... from a distance.  But as time marched on BP (the husband) and I determined we were in desperate need of a pool.  You see, without one, a person can't really go outside in their backyard for about 4-5 months of the year here in Arizona.  It's just too hot. You need to dunk and BBQ, dip and swing the sticks, dive and sun bathe. So when my daughter was just 2 years old we embarked upon a pool construction.

It was dreamy. I got to put it where I wanted in our back yard, design it, pick the colors and materials, add a table in the water and a huge baja step!  Right up my alley.  And when we got it... we added a pool net for safety. Yes, they're ugly but necessary.  We put another one on our current pool.

If put on properly, which ours always is, they are full proof - except when the net comes off.

****PAUSE for a short commercial***

Interested in seeing more of the net?  I made a quick video below.  Please be kind.  It was really my first attempt at this!

Back to our story.  On this day, the net was off.   It was in our first house below.

I was talking on the phone to a friend outside.  It was a cool morning and my 3 year old daughter was walking around the coping (edge) of the pool.  I remember telling her to be careful because she was about to fall in.  Within minutes, she did.  So I, went in right after her.  Clothes and all.  I got her and dried her off.  She was shaken but fine.  If I wasn't there, she would have surely drowned.  Even after years of swimming lessons.  I think the shock just left her confused, paralyzed and struggling in a foreign place... water.  It was at that moment my eyes were forever opened.  It was so quick, so quiet, so dangerous.

Of course I shared the experience with my husband and we took it very seriously.  Fast forward to several years later, a new house, a new child, a new pool, a new net... and it happened again.  Again, the net... not on.  I was just getting home from a hair appointment.  I came in to my bedroom and peered out the window to the back yard where I saw my 2 year old son hysterically crying.  I ran out to comfort his wet little self  but he was already being held by his father and wanted nothing to do with me.  That was unusual.

Here's what happened: BP was working on something in the back yard.  Both of our children were with him.  As he continued his project, he heard what he thought was a rock that one of our children had thrown in the pool.  It was a small, insignificant sound. Not even a splash.  So, he ignored it.  As the story goes, my 6 year old daughter (and very adept swimmer) stood there watching my son struggle, upside down... in the pool.  She did not move.  She could not move.  After several more seconds she calmly and softly said, "Daddy, he's in the pool..." and it was only then that my husband became aware his only little boy was in danger of dying before his eyes.  He sprang into action.  And just as I had done, years earlier, he jumped in the pool to save his son.  Just in time.

Hudson was terrified but fine.  He held on tight to Daddy for a long time... as if to say "thank you" for saving his life.

Ask BP and he'll tell you he didn't think twice of the noise he barely heard.  Most parents don't.  If my daughter wasn't there... the outcome could have been very different.  Our story... devastating.

We start our children in swim classes before they can walk, we buy barriers... but watching our children is crucial.  We all need layers of protection when it comes to water safety. Time and time again, here in Arizona and all over the world, children die in a pool when there are adults all around.  But the slip was silent.  Much like ours.

Water Safety ABC's:
Adult Supervision
Barriers (a net)

So as kids get out of school and we head into Summer pay attention to the warnings and the rules above.  Don't just hear them - act on them.  Because the slip may be silent but the consequences are loud and clear.  And I will assure you.. they'll haunt you forever.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

10 Tips for your Kitchen Remodel

The Headlines:

What woman doesn't want to remodel her kitchen?

The one who just did it.

We all want a fabulous kitchen... even if we don't cook.  Why?  Because married or single, kids or no kids, old or young... everyone gravitates towards the kitchen.  It's the center of activity because food sustains life!  Therefore, we all want that space to be a place we want to be.

These days Kitchen renovation is ON FIRE.  Many of us are staying put in our houses - just making them better.  I recently visited a friend of mine who re-did her kitchen.  She made it her dream kitchen and she's ecstatic!  As we spoke, we naturally started talking about all the things we had learned during our experiences.  I remodeled our kitchen a few years ago.

We didn't talk style, trends or colors.  Simply what we learned that can help ANYONE thinking about remodeling their kitchen in the future!

Tip 1 - Have a Plan
This is the first tip because this is where it all begins.  Start visiting friends houses, looking at magazines, Pinterest, know what you want and what you need.  Also, decide on your budget.  There's a big difference between a 15k remodel and a 100k one.  You need to know numbers because that affects your overall plan.  For the record, this leg work could take you up to 6 months because if you're going to do this thing - you want to get it right!

Tip 2 - Find Referrals
You must get people to work for you that you know and trust.  This has to come from friend referrals.  Not on-line, not from a mail insert... you need first hand knowledge of who these people are, how they work and what their end result will be.

Tip 3 - Go Classic
Trends come and go.  Classic remains relevant.  Try to make selections that will stand the test of time.  Even though you absolutely love that cool, see through tile... will it become passe' tomorrow?  Then don't pick it.

Tip 4 - The Hood is your Crown
I can not stress this enough.  These days, hoods can be absolutely GORGE!  I mean, really.  So don't miss an opportunity.  Look at this one?  She could have done stainless steel (like I did, and don't get wrong, can be awesome) but she was adamant that this hood would seal the deal.  It does!

Tip 5 - Move the Micro Down (or out)
If at all possible, microwaves need to be moved.  Let's face it... they're ugly.  As you can see (in the before pic) hers was where the hood is currently housed.  So she moved it.  Out of sight really... in the island.  Brilliant choice.  It made room for that amazing hood and got the ugly out.  Another idea, if it can be done, put your microwave in the pantry.

Tip 6 - Get rid of those Soffits 
There's just no need for those pieces of protruding wall below the celling.  You know what I'm talking about?  They were big in the 80's and 90's for home builders.  Now they're just useless and people are always taking them out.  There's usually very little cost to it and nothing super substantial in them.   Plus, it allows you to build cabinets directly up to the ceiling or much closer to it.  The effect is priceless!

Tip 7 - Go BIG with the Island 
Ever noticed this in a kitchen?  We all gather around the ISLAND!  So if you're doing a remodel... make it longer or wider.  In my friends kitchen you can see (in the the before pic) she got rid of her small island and the outside counter.  Then, elongated the island and added an "eat in" space since that was where she wanted her family to eat casual meals.

Tip 8  Have Fun with Lighting
Chandeliers (like below - another friends kitchen) and drop lighting of any kind (like above) adds so much to a kitchen.  It can really personalize the space because there are SO MANY CHOICES out there.  It makes the room about style as much as it, literally, highlights its function.

Tip 9  Seize more "Kitchen Space" Wherever/Whenever You Can!
This "Bar" around the corner of her kitchen extends it even more.  She can use it for all the drinks during a party, therefore opening up space in her actual kitchen.  It makes it feel even larger and there's nothing wrong with that!

Tip 10 Sink Envy!
This is my friends favorite thing in her kitchen:

That's right, it may look like a boring old sink to you... but, to her, not having that annoying center divider is heavenly.  I will second that, as I get many compliments on my "grand" sink as well!  So, contrary to popular belief... don't ignore what goes down the drain!

Coming soon... I'll list the Top 5 Money Saving Tips to your Kitchen Remodel! 

For now, that's HER dream Kitchen... what's in yours?  Starting that plan costs nothing...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

DIY Wine Box Bar Front

The Headlines:

If you have a bar...

Do this!

Coolest thing EVER!

Here's an 8-Step-How-To:

I'm all about the decorating.  I just love to put things together and make things look... cool.  When we bought our house, BP (the husband) and I knew we had to re-do EVERYTHING.  I was excited about that... it was one of the reasons I started this blog!  The current project at hand:  our bar.   BP and I had been looking at its ugly self for years now and it was time. I wanted to do something that looked very masculine.  So HE came up with this...

Without hesitation, I was for it since I had seen something similar at our friend's house (on their fridge front) and it looked awesome!  

Now, in case you can't tell what you're looking at... those are all WOOD WINE BOXES, ripped apart, applied to the bar front like a jig-saw puzzle and stained. 

Here's a closer look:

This is what it looked like before:

It was just a boring, blonde bar front.  Like seriously snoozy.  Now... wanna know how to do it?  
8 Steps to a Wine Box Bar Front:

1.  The first job is finding all your key materials.  In this case we needed wine boxes, corbels and the color stain.  First, where do you find them?  I'd suggest your favorite wine/liquor store (where they know you), ask a grocery store/Costco (they may just want to get rind of them) or if you know someone in the biz that's always a good place to start!  BP suggests wine boxes that aren't too big and don't have import stickers on them.  Also, have some fun with the boxes you choose... if you LOOOVE Inglenook (Coppola's high end wine)... place it front and Center.  Joel Gott?  Get his wines boxes.  Cakebread Chard is what makes you smile...?  Add that.

Make sure, however, to get  30-40% more than you need because when you break them apart - some are bound to split.  Typically, Corbels are really expensive.... but I found iron shelf brackets at IKEA for $4 that worked just as well and gave me the look I wanted more than any other $300 corbel. Yay!

Finally, to find the right stain - use old fashion trial and error on wood you don't need.  

2. Next step, break those wine boxes apart.  Keep only the tops/bottoms and sides that have logos or winery names and have no split -nail holes.  Divots are okay as they add character.  

3. Now, make critical cuts.  First, determine the angles of the area you are re-decorating (in this case we had a 27.5 degree angle. So BP cut enough ends of boxes to be able to cover top to bottom and fit them together.   Also, use different height boxes to create a non-uniform look.  Different depth matters too... like this:

4. Attach the boxes with liquid nails and, for reinforcement, it's a good idea to nail each corner as well (especially when you begin).  BP recommends nailing and placing the boxes that have been cut to angle once you secure the box sides top to bottom.  Then, keep going (like a puzzle) remember to carefully place whichever boxes you'd like more prominent as you switch up the box height, width and depth - so much cooler looking that way!  Once you fit in all the good boxes - you may have some dead space.  

5. Time to fill that in.  BP cut some pieces out of the boxes left (box ends are good for this) and placed them as fillers.

6.  Once the bare wood is covered up - use wood conditioner.  This allows the stain to penetrate evenly and give it an even look - as each box is a different type and finish of wood.

7. After that drys - take your choice of stain and go for it!  Use Q-tips to get in the  nooks and crannies

8. Finally, you're done, so sit down and have a drink!  

I know some of you are looking at the last picture above and saying - why did she stain it?  That looks cool too - you can see all the wine boxes/labels that way.  We stained it for this reason:  I didn't want the boxes to be quite so "in your face...." I wanted it subtle.  My hope is that someone will look at the bar, then do a double take and say... "is that what I think it is?"  But that's just us... you can do it however you want! 

In case you're wondering.... no, we're not finished with the entire project!  We want to add shelves, change the counter-top, add a back splash (made out of winery coaster tiles) and a fridge/ice maker.  Yea, lots left to do... to be continued!   

Here's the LIVE - to tape - Persicope I did on this topic if you want to see the Bar in ACTION!  
Thanks for watching! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

10 Reasons I'm the Meanest Mom Ever (& I wouldn't change a thing)!

The Headlines:

I'm trying my best.

Sometimes, they think I'm a mean Mom.

Maybe I am?

But maybe that's okay.

I did something this week that many may think was a "Mean Mom Move."  I knew it wasn't the popular choice, I didn't even consult BP (the husband) on it because I knew what he'd say.  And even though I felt a little bad, I made the decision anyway... because although it may not have been the nicest choice... it was the right one for her.

It got me thinking, I make a lot of "Mean Mom Moves" actually... I wonder if someday my kids will thank me for them... or hate me?

What do you think?

10 - Bed Time is Bed Time
I know it's terrible because I rarely bend on this. "7:45?  Heading in son!"  There are exceptions but not very often... I find if I don't stick to these nightly deadlines we ALL pay for it the next day.

9 - We Skip Play Dates for Walks
This could be considered my main form of exercise.  I walk a lot.  It keeps my butt in line, you know, literally.  I love it, I need it, even my son likes it.  So everything else kind of has to work around these precious hours during my week.  That's either mean or genius.  You decide.

8 - Treats Aren't Treats If You get them Everyday
Ultimately, sugar is the devil.  We don't eat sugar (cakes, cookies, candies) everyday.  My daughter informed me the other day that her friend got a dessert every night after dinner.  I said, "That's good for her - but we don't.  It's not a treat if you get one everyday!"  With that said, there are exceptions, when I go to some stores I always have  "treats" on stand-by to keep my little guy in line.  I said I'm mean... not stupid!

7 - What do You Mean You Can Buy Toys at the STORE? 
I (almost) NEVER buy Toys for them, in front of them, at the store.  This, my friends, is a slippery slope.  My daughter had no idea she could actually buy toys for herself at the store until she was like 5 years old.  Once you go down that road... every trip to Target will be one big beg-fest.  I'm not dealing with that when I'm simply trying to buy some lotion and toothpaste.

6 - Date Night May Win Over a TBall Pizza Party
T-ball end-of-the-year Pizza parties are important.  But so is date night with the husband!  This happened last weekend and while I felt really bad about missing (part of) it... most of the other parents we're giving us high-5's as we left the joint!  Guess the moral of the story is date night is important for the whole family.  It just might not seem that way when you walk out that door.
**Note** do not miss ALL T-ball Pizza Celebrations, then it goes from mean to just downright cruel.

5 - Sick?  HOW Sick?
For the most part, my kids don't "lie" about being sick.  But there's only so many times a Mom can hear "My tummy hurts,"  "sniffle sniffle,"  "When I go like this - it feels weird," "cough," "My throat's scratchy..."  before you just gotta ask, "How scratchy?" back.  If I let them stay home every time there was an ailment... we would go NO WHERE!  So onward... drink this Vitamin Water!

4 - Tell It Like It Is (but do it with heart)
I'm a pretty straight forward Mom.  Do we want our kids to think they're great at everything? That's not real life.  I say reinforce what they're good at and work on the other stuff.   I would never tell my daughter she was the best dancer on the squad unless she was... so when she came to me this year and said, "Mom, I'm in the back row a lot... I think it's because I'm so good."  I couldn't agree.  I told her she's got a lot of potential but that she probably needed to work a little harder.  On the other hand, when she went on the school "News Crew" and appeared on their "live school broadcast" I couldn't contain how fabulous she was, because she was, really good!

We're still working on dance.  Now she tells me she's front & center for her ballet routine.  Meantime, she's an MC for her class project next week.  I couldn't be more proud.  Telling it like it is, with love, might not be easy for you but it's hard lesson kids need to learn.

3 - Sometimes I Choose ME  
There's a ME in Mean right?  Occasionally, I may choose a shirt for me over a shirt for my kids.  Don't worry, they have clothes, lots of clothes, lots of toys, lots of all the essentials and so do I but if it comes between a shirt for me or them - I may win a time or two.  I know, mean!

2 - School Rules
I have a friend that says, "I don't send my kids to school to have fun - school is for learning."  She couldn't be more right.  I know having fun while learning will always be the best teacher but school should aways come first.  So when my daughter's entire Brownie Troop went to a pottery place today and I made my daughter attend Spanish Class... it wasn't the popular choice but it was my choice.  Making matters worse, she was all alone in class because her other classmates were Brownies (who went to the pottery place).  I felt horrible while making the decision but it had to be done.  School had to be the priority here.  She may not be fluent yet... but she came out of class knowing more than she did going in.

And theee number one reason I'm a Mean Mom...

1 - Sometimes We Lock the Door at Night
They pound away on those doors and we just sit inside laughing.  NO!  Not quite.  In fact, we don't even do it all the time but sometimes Mom and Dad need privacy.  Now, with that said, my kids rarely get up in the middle of the night. If they did I would have a hard time doing this because they are and always will be my first priority.  But I will say on occasion, we lock those doors.  I'm not even sure my kids know that... wait, if they don't know then maybe it's not being mean at all?  Hmmmm...

Bottom line,  it's like when your child starts a sport or a class and after attending a few of the events they no longer want to go.  I haven't had that come up and that's why it didn't make the list but many parents experience it.  Now, there are exceptions but I would say make them go.  Because they're kids.  Believe it or not sometimes kids don't really know what they want even though they think they do.  As their parents it's our job to guide them and help them see what they have no idea exists.  If that makes me mean... I wouldn't change a thing.

Tonight, I talked with a special Mom friend of mine about this notion of being such a "Mean Mom" and she disagreed with me.  Instead, she reminded me: making the un-popular decision might not make you the nicest person but it does make you a better Mom.

My kids may not know that yet... but someday I'm pretty sure they will.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Soda Pop Cupcakes

The Headlines:

Dad, make these easy cupcakes as a treat for Mom.

Kids, help Dad make these easy cupcakes as a treat...

For MOM.

Mother's Day is this weekend and she's usually in charge of all baking in the house. But for once, enlist Dad to join forces with the kids and make something for the woman who enriches your life every single day.

These are Soda-Pop Cupcakes.

And they're so easy...  there's no excuse for Dad NOT to pitch in!

Why Soda-Pop?  First, I think it's just fun to use something out-of-the-ordinary like that in baking.  Second, the soda not only gives it an extra zing but also makes the cakes richer.  Third, the more sugar loaded junk we can get in our kids on a daily basis, the better, right?

Kidding about that last one.

But really... the kids love the idea of SODA in cupcakes so much they practically fall over themselves trying to get to the kitchen to help!  You're welcome DAD!

Here's What You Need:
Your fav cake mix
Your fav soda
Whatever the recipe calls for, i.e.: eggs, oil (use coconut if you can, healthier than vegetable or canola) but minus the water, which you're replacing with SODA
Whipping cream (the kind from the freezer section)
**any other add ins

Here's What You Do:
In its very basic form you take the box of cake mix and make it according to the instructions but instead of adding water you use soda.  Just use a little more than it calls for... like a cup & a half.  Then bake the cupcakes in a muffin tin for about 20 minutes.

Once finished and cooled, add whipped cream as frosting or...

Make Your Own Whipped Cream: 3 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tspns vanilla and beat on medium-high until it's whipped cream!  So easy and incredibly yummy!

But before you do all that, you must think.  The sky's the limit.  What kind of flavor do you want to create?  Chocolate with Coca Cola?  Chocolate with Dr. Pepper? Yellow with Cream Soda? Maybe even white with Orange Soda? That could be weird but ya never know?  Then, ponder a bit more... do you want to add anything else to it?

I started with a yellow cake & cream soda.  I added a tspn & a half of coconut extract to both the batter and the whipped cream frosting.  I also plopped some sweetened coconut on top.  It was fabulous.  I then decided to get really crazy and added some white chocolate chips to a few of cupcakes before they baked.  Other ideas: maybe throw in some chocolate chips to Chocolate and Coke cakes.  The Coke cakes have a real good flavor!  Or perhaps try some peppermint extract to Chocolate and Dr. Pepper?

Again, let your imagination run wild!  You never know where it will take you.

But for our purposes, hopefully... this year it will take you to something tasty for Mom... on her big day!

Good luck & let me know how it goes!

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