Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Birthday Party ~ What Not to Do

Yesterday Alex turned two {*sniffles*} and we had such a fun day. However, in hindsight there might have been several things I would have done a little differently. As such, the day may have been more appropriately named "Alex's Redneck Birthday".

For example.

#1) Don't forget to buy birthday wrapping paper. Otherwise, everything will get wrapped in tissue paper.

{You're probably dying to know how I made that #2 out of a streamer. Maybe I should add it to my Pinterest board.}

#2) Apparently TWO is kind of a big deal and deserves birthday candles. Who knew. In a pinch, you can always use "Homemade Walnut Candles" and a blowtorch.

Maybe I'll post a DIY tutorial for the "walnut candles" and add that to Pinterest too. Or I can just do it now.

Step 1: Stare at your wife in disbelief for a few minutes and repeatedly ask "really!? You don't have birthday candles?!"
Step 2: Ask for toothpicks
Step 3: Repeat Step 1
Step 4: In true problem-solver fashion, go to the garage and find a piece of leftover walnut
Step 5: Break off 2 splinters {aka: "candles"}
Step 6: Grab the blowtorch on the way back into the house

#3) Giving your child copious amounts of sugar in a 6 hour time frame will not result in a nap until 4pm.

Like Birthday Cake donuts from Starbucks...


and Twizzlers. {no photo op for this one}

...and chocolate milk

...and ketchup

...and ice cream sundaes.

And to top it all off, make sure you give him some Mega Blocks that you bought from a consignment sale for $3.50 on half price day. And don't you dare sanitize them.

 Happy Birthday, Alex! Because of you, Levi is going to have the best.birthday.ever.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Elmo Cupcakes

For Alex's "almost 2 playdate", I made him Elmo cupcakes. I think every kid born post-1999 has probably been obsessed with Elmo, so I figured they would be a hit. Sugar and kid-world, I don't think it gets much better than that.

I didn't really have a clue on I was going to make them and I knew that I wasn't going to buy all sorts of fancy-schmancy equipment. Enter the fabulous world of Pinterest. If you're not Pinteresting, you have absolutely no idea what you're missing. It's like sugar & Elmo for grown-ups. :) Anyway, I searched Pinterest for "Elmo Cupcakes" and found this DIY post as my inspiration...and then promptly decided not to do it anything like that. Okay, not really. But I basically saw how she did it and then made up my own version.

I ended up making 16 cupcakes and used the leftover batter to make a mini cake for Aaron. I haven't been keeping much dessert in the house lately, so I start to feel bad for him after a while. I made the Delicious Chocolate Cake {yes, that's really what it's called!} from one of the best cookbooks ever, the Mennonite Country Style Recipes cookbook and a powdered sugar frosting from the same cookbook. With a few modifications, of course. {like using coconut oil and dark cocoa}

I should have thought to do what all the professionals do and take a picture of all the ingredients used, but alas, I am no professional. However, this is what you need:

cupcakes {any type you choose}
oreo cookies
unholy amounts of red dye
large marshmallows
chocolate chips
orange jelly beans

While your cupcakes are cooling, this is a good time to prepare the eyes & mouth. Cut your marshmallows in half, each Elmo will need a total of one marshmallow. Next, I separated the oreos, then used a knife to try to cut them in half. The ones that came out fairly well got used, the broken pieces got eaten. :) There's got to be an easier way to do it than that, but it worked.

Once the cupcakes cool, spread a thin layer of frosting over the cakes. Not a lot, just enough so things will "stick". It doesn't even have to be red at this point. Next, take 2 halves of a marshmallow and place cut-side down on the frosting to create the eyes.  Then add an orange jelly bean for the nose, then pick a piece of cookie that looks good size-wise and add it for the mouth.

Once I attached the facial parts, I needed to dye the rest of the frosting. My mom said you can purchasee a red dye paste that works well, because with red liquid dye, things often come out more pinkish. Well, these came out pretty you can imagine the amount of red dye I added. And with every guilt-ridden drop {or squeeze!!} I tried not to think about this. At this point, you could have gotten all fancy schmancy and bought a bag & tip to make the "fur", but if you're cheap like me, a sandwich bag will work just fine. I loaded in the frosting and snipped off a tiny piece of one corner. Then start squeezing & dabbing the frosting all around the cupcakes and the pre-attached eyes, nose, & mouth. You can make it look fur-ish without having a special tip.

Once all the cupcakes had fur, then I needed to put on the eyes. I melted some chocolate chips with a little bit of milk, then loaded into a sandwich bag the same way I did with the frosting. I placed a dab of chocolate on each marshmallow then added a regular chocolate chip. The dab of melted chocolate was just to make the chocolate chip eyeball stick.

Voila! Elmo cupcakes! It had been warm here, so I stored them in the fridge overnight on cooling racks. It worked perfect to do it that way since I was leaving the house fairly early to run an errand go to a consignment sale before heading to the park. Since I'd put them in the fridge, and packaged them in some Tupperware in a cooler, they didn't melt all over the place before we got to eat them.

It was so much fun to do a "mommy thing" for Alex. He's finally at that point where I think he will start to appreciate these kinds of things. And it was extremely rewarding that when I showed him the cupcakes, he said, "ELMO!" :) {instead of, "huh?!"}

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Alex {almost} turns two!

The weather has been so mild and nice the past couple of months, that often you'll find a group of us mom's & kiddo's from church at the park on Friday mornings. We pack a picnic lunch, meet at around 11am and let the kids do their thing. Alex will turn 2 at the end of the month {yikes!} and Katie was 3 this month, so we decided to do a "birthday playdate" last Friday for both of them. It really was no different than any other playdate, except that there was cupcakes and they wore birthday hats.

I decided to make Elmo cupcakes since all of a sudden Alex loves Elmo. Apparently it's some sort of "right of passage" for two year olds. Since we were going to have an Elmo cupcake playdate, we decided to wear red. {Although "we" have no idea why we're wearing red, much less what "red" is.}

Even Levi got in on the action. Unfortunately for him, his shirt says "Hug Me". :)


When we got to the park, Katie's mommy gave Alex an awesome birthday hat!

...which he actually wore for quite a while performing various activities.

Like sliding...

and running...
and riding cars...

Hi Levi!

 ...and, or course, while eating cupcakes!

After a while, we decided to just hold our hat instead.

After cupcakes, we had fun playing with birthday noise makers!

 A couple of sweet friends even brought us gifts.


We had such a fun morning playing and visiting with our friends! We stayed well past naptime, but it's not every day that you almost turn TWO. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What is it they say about curiosity...?

Just in case you ever wondered what would happen if you stuck a pair of tweezers into an electrical outlet...

...well, now you know.

And apparently it's also "HOT!".

Just ask Alex.

{and in case you were also wondering: No, he did not cry, whine, yell, or otherwise freak out. Just said "hot!" and calmly handed me the tweezers.}