Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Okay, I'm assuming that every kid does weird things once in awhile. Dora and Theo have each other as partners in crime, and boy do they come up with strange stuff sometimes. I've learned a few things over the years, like if a yardstick is left out where it can be reached, small people hone in on it like it has a radio frequency and start swinging it around within minutes. MINUTES! Ditto for wrapping paper tubes. Also, Post-It Notes left in plain view will be used to label every object on the ground floor of the house.

This was a new one for them ... I have no idea how it originated, but I found these notes taped all over the house. And when a child encounters one, (s)he is compelled to throw arms up in the air and run around the house, screaming ...

... what else?


Other kids do weird things too, right?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Baking Monday - Chocolate Cupcakes

This is a recipe from an issue of Glamour from 1998, back in the days when I was a loyal subscriber. Actually, I can't believe a recipe this decadent was ever allowed in Glamour. I've made this recipe exactly three times. The process takes a few steps, they are definitely special occasion cupcakes!

Chocolate cupcake with cream cheese filling.

Mmmmmm. These are super-rich and super-awesome. They are supposed to have swirls of white chocolate on top, a la Hostess cupcakes. But I think my white chocolate might have been too old, because it did not melt well and was a little bloppy.

Ooops. Should have used icing instead, rats. At least they still taste good.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Kids' Mailbox

So, I've had this project in the back of my mind for a couple weeks. I've been trying to encourage the kids to write more letters, so I started a little envelope with slips of paper that have names of friends and family on them. They can choose a name each week and write a letter (or send a picture or whatever) to that person.

Then I thought that it would be a nice idea to gather all their letter-writing supplies in one place. After fiddling with ideas, I realized that the container should be (duh) a mailbox. I collected some empty cereal boxes, taped them together and trimmed at an angle to make a mailbox shape, with built-in dividers. I covered the boxes with paper and covered the edges with color duct tape (my new favorite thing!).

The outside looks much prettier than the inside, but it works.

Then I gathered supplies ... writing papers, address labels, pencils, envelopes. As I was putting these things together, it occurred to me that if they had their own address book, they could really do this all by themselves.

A normal person would have waited until the next day and gone to the dollar store and bought one. A normal person in a hurry may have just grabbed one of a zillion blank notebooks lying around the house and used that. But since we are dealing with crazy lady over here, it was decided at 9:00 at night that I must make my own.

Though I'm actually thrilled with how it turned out. And now you all get to benefit from my craziness, because I'm including a link to the pdf.

• The book pages are already imposed.
• Print out the pages double sided on a color printer, using text paper.
• Print the cover seperately (b&w) on color card stock.
• Fold cover, fold pages and tuck inside.
• Attach with long-armed stapler down the center seam, cover with black binding tape.
• Trim edges with an Xacto knife. Cut off outside corners to finish.

Kids' Printable Address book here.
Kids' Address book cover here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Baking Monday - Chocolate Earl Grey Shortbread

Well, I was so excited to try this recipe, because it combines my three favorite loves: tea, chocolate and shortbread. I was also excited to try it because it was an opportunity to use my new food processor, yay!

These were super easy to mix, it takes longer to get out all the ingredients than it does to combine them. The recipe calls for a stick of butter, and this made 24 (tiny) cookies, so there's essentially a pat of butter in each cookie. (You're welcome.)

Verdict: Good, but I can't say that the tea flavor made these cookies extra-special. I think I would prefer plain chocolate shortbread instead.

And on a totally unrelated topic: Garlic Roasties. Try them today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

When Bad Things Happen to Good Cookies

Lest anyone think that life is all rainbows and unicorns in the Hotcakes house, I have a story of sadness to share today. Our lovely friend Helen ordered cookies last week for her school. I spent time on Tuesday night working on the cookies so they'd be all ready to pick up on Wednesday evening.

And Wednesday morning, I woke up and saw this:

And this:

And then I started crying. And because I'm an awesome mom, I channeled that anger and sadness into yelling at the kids who were already running late for school. Bra-vo!

Came home, regrouped, pulled the emergency cookie dough out of the freezer, and started again. And, as usually happens, the second batch turned out even better.

According to Helen, the cookies were a hit and disappeared quickly. And my children forgave me for the mini freak out when they got to enjoy the rejects.

Friday, March 19, 2010


An actual conversation that took place this morning between the three-year-old and myself.

3YO: I want my boots.
Me: Your boots are by the front door.
3YO: Door? What door?
Me: The door of the house.
3YO: House? What house?
Me: Oh, help.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Baking Monday - Pop Tarts

Here it is ... the homemeade Pop Tart with Wegmans Organic strawberry spread for the filling. I iced these individually and added sprinkles for that Pop Tart-y feel, but next time I would use an icing bag to make them prettier. Not much to report on this recipe, it was very easy to follow. A double recipe made 16 bars.

These are deee-lish. I treated myself to half a bar and shared the other half with Dora before sending them on their way.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Girl Scouts!

March 12th commemorates the day in 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low officially registered the organization's first 18 girl members in Savannah, Georgia.

Dora's leader sent out an email last night asking if someone would be willing to send in cupcakes for tonight's meeting. One parent responded with "ha ha!" but you-know-who stepped up to the challenge ... crazy baker lady.

These would have been from scratch if not for a last-minute project that popped up today. Rats.

For vanilla kind of girls ...

And chocolate lovers.

Happy 98th birthday, Girl Scouts! Thank you for creating accepting, nurturing, challenging environments for many generations of women. Thank you to all the leaders and volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to help girls develop friendships and skills for success.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tub Time

When Jeff was out of town last week, I asked him to get me a Gloomaway bar from Origins. Sadly, the shops at Bellagio and Miracle Mile are no longer around. So he made a detour to Lush instead. Soap for me (Sexy Peel, ooh la la) and the little ones (Honey I Washed the Kids - funny.) He also brought them each a bath bomb and they were tickled. Especially Theo, because his actually said "BOMB" on the side of it. Jeff documented their bath bomb experience, and though most images are not suitable to post, these are a few highlights.

Look at my cute hubby, taking these bloggy photos!

Dora's Confetti Bomb

The Blackberry Bomb turned the water bright purple. And tucked inside ... a little note that said, "BOOM BOOM". So funny.

Most expensive bath time EVER, but everyone loved it. Theo wanted to make sure he'd still smell like his bath for school the next day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Night & Baking Monday

We had a party last night for the Oscars with our friends from Jeff's pool team. It was the kind of party we used to have in the days before kids, but had sadly faded away. Now that we have a group of friends who are child-free, we can lure them to our house with soft couches and baked goods and have a social evening without a babysitter. Yay!

So, no Baking Monday today, because we had so many yummy goodies leftover from last night. (Millionaire Brownies ... mmmmm.) BUT! I did a little bit of baking over the weekend. First project: use up the leftover frosting I had in the fridge from past Baking Mondays. I made a chocolate sheet cake and used the fillings to make mini-cakes with glaze.

And what to do with all the scraps after cutting out the circles? Pudding Cake trifle, of course. I made this for the kids. Am wondering how wrong it would be to eat the leftovers for lunch.

And I couldn't let a party go by without some cookies. Stars, of course, for the Oscars. These are the butter almond cutouts with sparkly sugar.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Easter Bunny's Gonna Find You

Working on more Sunday school stuff tonight. I like to have worksheets for the kids to do while we're waiting for everyone to arrive. I used to do coloring pages, until about six weeks into class when the kids finally protested, "No more coloring pages!!!" So, I've been asking them what kind of activity sheets they like to do. Theo requested a "really, really hard maze." I've been searching for different printable maze sheets, and found one that had a good maze, but this was the starting image:

"Come here, little boy. Help me find my carrot and I'll give you some candy."

I know, I know, it's just a throwaway activity sheet, but still felt the need to cutesy it up.

Ahhhhh. That's better.

Cute Bunny Maze printable here.
Derranged Bunny Maze here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

What I Love This Week

I pack a lot of lunches.

A. LOT. Of. Lunches.

The kids lunchboxes were falling apart a few months ago - Dora had a Thermos brand that lasted 2.5 years and Theo's whatever from Target stuck around for just over a year. The insides were shredding and gross. Before Christmas, I invested in these lunch totes from Land's End. They are super durable and the inside is a solid soft surface that will not rip and is super easy to wipe down. I love that it's just one big space, so I don't have to worry about trying to fit a certain size container into a certain size space. It's got a little mesh pocket for napkins, change holders and utensils. The only bummer is that it does not come in a lot of colors (which is probably why it's on sale), but I was very lucky that their favorite colors were two of the three available. I hope they will have more again before the fall, because this is a really great product. I still hate packing lunches, but these make me just a tiny bit happier.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


So, a few weeks ago, we watched the Muppet Movie for family movie night. When the movie was over, we scrolled through the previews on the disc and watched the preview for Jumanji. And then Theo wanted to watch it again. And again. And then wanted to know when we could see the movie. When Mom? When can we see it? When? When? When?

I checked the movie and the book out of the library and we watched it for our next family movie night. I had only seen it once and many years ago ... I had forgotten how intense the action scenes are (And freaky monkeys!) It was definitely the scariest movie the kids had seen. Clark didn't make it all the way through, he wanted to go to bed. We fast-forwarded through a lot, in particular the giant spiders, the stampede, and alligator wrestling. Theo was spooked by the plants and vines.

However ... they LOVED the movie! The next day, Dora had a friend over to play and they all started talking about the movie while having a snack. Then they started acting out the movie. In typical Dora fashion, she remembered in what order all the things appeared from the game. They pretended to roll the dice and fight each disaster until the game ended.

Play continued long after Dora's friend went home ... and then they came up with this.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Baking Monday - Homemade HoHos

This week was a Baking Monday first ... a challenge! A friend asked if I could make homemade Ho-hos. I gave it a try. The recipe was a little complicated, I think there are definitely shortcuts that can be done next time. The cake turned out a little too thick and I would use more filling next time.

Because the cake was so thick, I made thin pinwheel type slices instead of a traditional ho-ho shape.

The chocolate coating was a little too sweet, would look for a different kind of glaze next time. The filling was delicious, and I've got some extra. I would like to try a multi-layered chocolate cake with this filling in between the layers.

Today I came across a recipe called "Better Than Pop Tart" which is on deck for next week. I'm having fun trying to replicate favorite childhood treats!

Also this week ... birthday cookies for Jack and Emma. (Hi Laura!)

And mmmmm ... foccacia. It was supposed to have rosemary, but Jeff doesn't like "that stuff that looks like sticks", so this is garlic with Tastefully Simple Italian seasoning. This turned out great, but the recipe makes two giant loaves. Luckily I was able to bring some to a family party the next day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Scenes from a Snow Day

In anticipation of last week's snow day, I went in with a plan. Which the kids were very excited about at the beginning of the day. Then not so excited when they realized the tv would not be going back on again. There was whining and complaining and two kids up in their rooms before 9 am. But once we got past that bump, the rest of the day went really well, and they checked the "schedule" often during the day.

We checked everything off the list by 5:00 and even finished work for the OOTM competition that weekend, which left just enough time for some snow time before dark.

All in all, a good day. I'm happy that we had a plan. We have our share of lazy days, but knew that I would do better with a schedule on that particular day. I also let go of the possibility of getting anything done for myself, which made the day that much easier.

And then ... we got to do it all again the next day.

Dora and Theo both asked if they could have another schedule. So I made up another one before breakfast. At the end of the day, Dora asked if we could always have a schedule on snow days. I originally made it up for me, so I was genuinely surprised at how much they enjoyed it. I will soon start working on "Spring Break Plan" and "Summer Vacation Plan!"